General Idea. Manipulating the Self. 1973 242

Offset lithograph, composition: 20 7/16 x 18 7/16" (51.9 x 46.8 cm); sheet: 29 x 23 1/16" (73.6 x 58.5 cm). Mary Joy Thompson Legacy Fund. © 2022 General Idea

Artist, AA Bronson: My name is A.A. Bronson. I was one of the three artists of General Idea. We first used the name "General Idea" in an exhibition in 1970. So at that point, we'd been together about a year. It was our first collaborative project that got presented in an art gallery. And everybody misunderstood and thought it was the name of the group. So we thought, "Okay. So be it."

We came up with the idea of a beauty pageant because the beauty pageant operates in the same way that the art world operates. There's winners and losers. There's talent competitions. There's prizes. It's a kind of metaphor for the art world.

And so we took this little tiny, tiny little image and blew it up. And called it The Artist’s Conception of Miss General Idea simply because it breaks all the conventions of what a beauty queen should look like.

And it's unclear whether it's a man or a woman but, in fact, you could tell from the ad that it was a man somehow the shoes and the rubber and the mask all add to some sort of vision that illustrates the word glamour. And 1971, when we did this piece, was a time when all our friends were, you know, eating Whole Earth food and wearing Birkenstock sandals and the idea of glamour was just totally verboten to our generation.

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