General Idea

P Is For Poodle

Mitchell-Innes & Nash
534 W 26th Street
Open by appointment
New York
Chelsea

The three-person Canadian artist collective General Idea was active from 1969 through 1994. During that time, they produced a voluminous and singularly wide-ranging body of work that included performances, installations, paintings, photographs, videos, and printed materials, all the while turning a critical eye to contemporary mores. One other—albeit lesser-known—throughline in this eclectic oeuvre?: Poodles.

Presented on-site by Mitchell-Innes & Nash, "P is for Poodle" surveys General Idea's work featuring the ornamental dog breed. Notably, on view in the United States for the first time are two significant, large-scale installations—both having appeared in the group's 2012 retrospective at the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris: P is for Poodle (The Milky Way from the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion) (1982-1983) and Firewall (1985). Elsewhere, poodles in various states of figuration and repose appear in paintings, drawings, and sculptural wall works.

From the gallery:

Known for "its wit, pampered presence and ornamental physique," the poodle arrived into the visual lexicon of General Idea in the early 1980s and quickly became a vehicle by which the group addressed issues ranging from sexual stereotypes to the commodification of contemporary art. However, beyond its use as an agent of subtle yet substantive political and social critique, the poodle also served as a kind of heraldic device—an emblem for the mythology of General Idea and its processes of mythmaking. Through its various incarnations of the poodle, General Idea strived for a metanarrative that skirted the boundaries between artifact and artifice; history and fantasy; truth and fiction.

General Idea, P Is For Poodle (The Milky Way from the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion aka XXX), 1982-83. Poodle mannequins, straw, synthetic fur, painted rolled steel spirals, metal trident forks, gilded wood milking stools, brass buckets, sound machines in wood boxes with rotating public-address bell speakers, audio cassette recorders, audio tape cassettes (transferred to CD/compact disc in 2011), screen composed of 3 aluminum panels, painted and lit with one ultra-violet light and one theatre spot In 8 units, overall (variable): 5 x 40 x 60 feet.