1947 - ?

Institute of Contemporary Arts

The Institute of Contemporary Arts was founded in 1947 in a small office in Charlotte Street, London, and its chief proponents were Eric Gregory, Peter Norton, Roland Penrose, Herbert Read and Peter Watson and the ICA's founders intended to establish a space where artists, writers and scientists could debate ideas outside the traditional confines of the Royal Academy. In 1950 the Institute was moved to a first-floor gallery in Dover Street, but by 1968 it had outgrown this space and moved to Nash House, Carlton House Terrace in the Mall. Its first exhibition was in 1948, entitled 'Forty Years of Modem Art', consisted of Surrealist and abstract paintings and sculpture, and was held in the basement of the Academy Cinema in Oxford Street. This was followed by a more ambitious exhibition entitled Forty Thousand Years of Modem Art, which had as its theme the development of art from its prehistoric and tribal origins through to modernism. The ICA has been involved with all facets of the arts since its inception, including lectures, dance performances and film seasons. The focus remains on current artistic movements, experiments, and development in the arts, rather than retrospective or historical exhibitions.