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The Art

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Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London







Exhibition Venue / Fair


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Founded in 1946 by Geoffrey Grigson, Roland Penrose, Herbert Read, Peter Gregory, E.L.T. Mesens and Peter Watson, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) resisted an initial impulse to become a Museum of Modern Art for London, preferring instead to position itself at the forefront of art and culture. Initially conceived with a special focus on artists working across a range of contemporary art forms, the first ICA exhibitions took place in a hired space at the Academy Hall, Oxford Street, before taking up more permanent residence at 17-18 Dover Street, Mayfair, in 1950. During the post-war period, the ICA would significantly respond to developments taking place in the international contemporary art world.

Throughout the fifties, the ICA became known for groundbreaking exhibitions, including those held by members of the Independent Group such as Growth and Form (1951) and Parallel of Art And Life (1953). Aside from its associations with proto-Pop artists such as Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi, the ICA also staged exhibitions by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and Pablo Picasso, as well as attracting a raft of engaged designers and architects to include J. G. Ballard, Terence Conran and Jane Drew.

In 1968, the ICA moved to its present location on The Mall where it became increasingly synonymous with live performance, talks and exhibitions by emerging contemporary artists. At its new home, ICA staged numerous exhibitions including the first institutional shows by Jake & Dinos Chapman, Damien Hirst, Gabriel Orozco and Richard Prince, as well as early shows by Robert Mapplethorpe, Gerhard Richter, Luc Tuymans and Steve McQueen. It also staged a number of live art events and performances by Laurie Anderson, Einstürzende Neubauten and Ron Athey.


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