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Artists as Writers: Bronson, AA

Artist Biography


(Image from AA Bronson's Twitter)

BRONSON, AA (1946 - )

Areas of Expertise

Conceptual art, public art, artists' books and publications, AIDS activism, queer theory

Biography

AA Bronson is an artist living and working in Toronto and Berlin. In the sixties, he left University with a group of friends to found a free school, a commune, and an underground newspaper. This led him into an adventure with gestalt therapy, radical education, and independent publishing. In 1969 he formed the artists’ group General Idea with Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal; for the next 25 years they lived and worked together to produce the living artwork of their being together, undertaking over 100 solo exhibitions, and countless group shows and temporary public art projects. They were known for their magazine FILE (1972-1989), their unrelenting production of low-cost multiples, and their early involvement in punk, queer theory, AIDS activism, and other manifestations of the other. In 1974 they founded Art Metropole, Toronto, a distribution center and archive for artists’ books, audio, video, and multiples, which they conceived as the shop and archive for their Gesamtkunstwerk: The 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion, a kind of meta-museum. From 1987 through 1994, they focused their work on the subject of AIDS.

Since his partners died in 1994, AA has worked and exhibited as a solo artist, often collaborating with younger generations, most recently in his performance series Invocation of the Queer Spirits. Since 1999 he has worked as a healer, an identity that he has also incorporated into his artwork. From 2004 to 2010 he was the Director of Printed Matter, Inc. in New York City, founding the annual NY Art Book Fair in 2005. In 2009 he founded the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, which he now co-directs. In 2013 he was the founding Director of Printed Matter's LA Art Book Fair. He has taught at UCLA, the University of Toronto, and the Yale School of Art.

AA Bronson’s work—as an artist, healer, curator, and educator—is dominated by the practice of collaboration and consensus. From his beginnings in a free school and commune, through his 25 years as one of the artists of General Idea, in his deep involvement with founding and developing collaborative and social structures such as Art Metropole, the NY Art Book Fair and AA Bronson’s School for Young Shamans, and through his current collaborations with younger generations, he has focused on the politics of decision-making and on living life radically as social sculpture.

AA Bronson holds many awards and three honorary doctorates. In 2008 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2011 he was named a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres by the French government.

Gallery Representation
AA Bronson and General Idea are represented by Esther Schipper, Berlin, and Maureen Paley, London. General Idea is also represented by Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

Online Resources

Writing by AA Bronson

Please note that not all works are available through the OCADU library. To acquire one of these works through Interlibrary Loan or other means, please contact the library for assistance.

AA Bronson: Autobiography

A Letter to MONTREAL: Making Love with Jesus. by AA Bronson. Journal of Canadian Art History, 07/2012, Volume 33, Issue 2. Read online through OCADU Library.

Negative thoughts by Bronson, A. Museum of Contemporary Art. 2001.  Available at OCADU Library.

AA Bronson: Writing about his art

Pablum for the Pablum eaters in Video by Artists, ed. Peggy Gale. Toronto: Art Metropole, 1976. p 196.

Myth as Parasite/Image as Virus: General Idea's Bookshelf 1967-1975 in The Search for the Spirit: General Idea 1968-1975. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1997.  Available at OCADU Library.

"Afterthought", Canadian Art, Toronto, Summer, 1999

Negative thoughts by Bronson, A. Museum of Contemporary Art. 2001.  Available at OCADU Library.

AA Bronson: the quick and the dead. Power Plant, 2003. Available at OCADU Library.

"AA Bronson: Excerpts from NEST" (artist's project), BorderCrossings, Winnipeg, Issue No. 89, 2004, pp. 63-65

"War is Over" (artist's project), This is the Salivation Army, Toronto, Issue X, 2004

AA Bronson, "I have it bad", 5th Artistbook International, Paris, 2005

Queer spirits by Bronson, A. A; Hobbs, Peter. Creative Time, 2011.  Available at OCADU Library.

Copyright, Cash and Crowd Control: Art and Economy in the work of General Idea. General Idea: haute culture : a retrospective, 1969-1994. JRP/Ringier, 2011. Available at OCADU Library.

A Letter to MONTREAL: Making Love with Jesus. by AA Bronson. Journal of Canadian Art History, 07/2012, Volume 33, Issue 2. Read online through OCADU Library.

“Documenta Sex.” Queer. Ed. David J. Getsy. London: Whitechapel Gallery; Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2016. Pp 155-157. Originally published in e-flux.com projects, 2003.

AA Bronson: Writing about art

Museums by artists by Bronson, A. A; Gale, Peggy. Art Metropole, 1983. Available at OCADU Library.

From Low to High and Back Again: Zen and the Art of Being in Consumer Culture, in Installationview: Ryan McGinness. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc, New York, 2005.  Available at OCADU Library.

Art & Economy (exhibition catalogue), Hatje Cantz, Hamburg (with an essay by AA Bronson)

"Trade with Erik Hanson" and "Trade with Arne Svenson", WC #1, White Columns, New York

"Publications: Manifestos of the Artist-run Centres", Tiré a Part \ Off Printing, RCAAQ, Montreal, pp. 11-23

"A Word of Caution", decentre, YYZ Books, Toronto, 2008, pp. 35-37.

"Artist’s Favourites", Spike Art Quarterly, Vienna, Summer 2008, pp. 18-20

"Desiderata, New York City, 3.3.07", Formulas for Now, London, Thames and Hudson, 2008, pp. 32-33

"Reading Gareth Long", Gareth Long Second Third Fourth, Oakville Galleries, Oakville, 2008, pp. 50-67

"Burning Down the House"/"Documenta Sex", Kinomusum: Towards an Artists' Cinema, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Koenig, Cologne, 2008, pp. 71-84

"Is This Where We Should Begin?", by AA Bronson and Don’t Rhine. in Make Everything New: A Project on Communicsm, Book Works, London, 2006, pp. 38-53

"Ceci n'est pas un livre d'artiste", 4Editeurs / 4 Publishers, Musée Royal de Mariemont, Brussels, Belgium, pp. 11-14

"Sex Work: The Museum as Brothel; Art House as Porn House", 53. Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen 3.-8. Mai 2007, Oberhausen, 2007, pp. 103-107

“The Autobiography of Mark Jan Krayenhoff van de Leur.” Hyperallergic.com, New York, September 26, 2014.

“Documenta Sex,” EXHIBITION: Documents of Contemporary Art, London: Whitechapel Gallery. 72.

“On Temptation,” E.R.O.S. IV, London. 130-149.

“Mehr Berlin.” Tagesspiegel, 31 January 2015.

AA Bronson: Interviews

Excerpts from a Conversation: Mike Kelley and AA Bronson. in General Idea Editions: 1967-1995. Blackwood Gallery, Toronto: 2003.  Available at OCADU Library.

AA Bronson: the quick and the dead. Power Plant, 2003. Available at OCADU Library.

"Home Boutique: Interview with AA Bronson", by Nicholas Herman, ante, Vol. 1, No. 2, New Haven, May 2003

Interview with AA Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Zontal. in General Idea: haute culture : a retrospective, 1969-1994. JRP/Ringier, 2011. Available at OCADU Library.

 “Asked & Answered | AA Bronson of General Idea,” by Alexandre de Looz, Pierre. The New York Times Style Magazine, 14 October 2011. Read online.

The Confessions of AA Bronson. by Vincent Simon. (Paris: Septembre éditions, 2011).

“In Conversation: AA Bronson”, Sleek, Berlin, Summer 2013

“General Idea - Interview with AA Bronson” Centre culturel canadien, Paris, 12 June 2014.

“Interview: AA.” Art in Culture, Seoul, December 2014. 150-153.

“AA Bronson on Queer Collaborations, Shamanism, and Korean History,” by Stuart Comer. hyperallergic.com, 9 October 2014.

“AA Bronson: Teetering on the edge of the macabre,” Ignatius, Linus (interviewer) Berlin Art Link, 20 January 2015.

General Idea Publications

AA Bronson was a member of General Idea, an artist group that produced conceptual art, publications, and more. This list of General Idea publications was sourced from AA Bronson's website.

FILE Magazine (1972 - 1989) is available through the OCADU Library.