Institute of Contemporary Arts  

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"The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, founded in 1947, champions art from that year onwards. Whereas The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York chooses the later date of 1977. In the 1980s, Tate planned a Museum of Contemporary Art in which contemporary art was defined as art of the past ten years on a rolling basis."[1]

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The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) is a modern art centre on The Mall in London, England. It is located within Nash House, which is part of Carlton House Terrace, near the Duke of York Steps and Admiralty Arch and contains galleries, a theatre, two cinemas and a bar.


It was founded by Peter Watson, Herbert Read, Geoffrey Grigson, E.L.T. Mesens, and Roland Penrose in 1946. The ICA's founders intended to establish a space where artists, writers and scientists could debate ideas outside of the traditional confines of the Royal Academy. The first exhibitions were held in rented premises organised by Penrose, '40 Years of Modern Art' was followed by '40,000 Years of Modern Art' reflecting his interest in primitivism.

In the late 1940's the ICA met in the basement of the Academy of Cinema, 165 Oxford Street. The Academy Cinema building included the Pavillion, a restaurant, and the Marquee ballroom in the basement, the building was owned by George Hoellering the film, jazz and big band promoter [2]. The ICA's first regular premises were in Dover Street, in the former premises of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson. In its early years, the Institute organised exhibitions of modern art including Picasso and Jackson Pollock, it also launched Pop art, Op art, and British Brutalist art and architecture. The Independent Group met at the ICA in 1952–1962/63 and organised several exhibitions, including This Is Tomorrow. Lawrence Alloway acted as assistant Director during the mid to later 1950s. With the support of the Arts Council, the ICA moved to its current site in 1968. For a period during the 1970s the Centre was more known for its often anarchic programme and administration.

In 2002 then ICA Chairman Ivan Massow criticised what he described as 'concept art' leading to his resignation.

The ICA appointed Ekow Eshun Artistic Director in 2005 following the departure of Philip Dodd.

The annual Beck's Futures prize was exhibited and hosted there until 2005. It also hosts part of the London film festival.

It has hosted the onedotzero digital film festival for over a decade (from 1996).

The world's first Cybercafe was held in the theatre in 1994.

The ICA appointed Mark Sladen as Director of Exhibitions in 2007 to replace Jens Hoffmann who was appointed Director of the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2006.

See also

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