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The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

Andy Warhol (in crowd) fleeing the crowd at his ICA retrospective. Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania.

Since its founding in 1963 at the University of Pennsylvania, the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia has been at the forefront of trends within the art world, helping to create a dialogue around current movements but importantly, promoting and giving a platform to under-recognized artists. Its immense influence on the early careers of some of the biggest names of our generation cannot be denied and its alumni include artists such as Cy Twombly, Robert Mapplethorpe, Agnes Martin, Karen Kilimnik, Barry Le Va, and Richard Artschwager. It is Andy Warhol, though, who can be named as the center’s greatest success story.

Warhol’s first North American museum exhibition took place at the ICA in 1965 where the landmark show quickly turned into a frenzy of crowds clamoring to catch a glimpse of not only Warhol’s works but the artist himself. Warhol and his party were forced to flee the mob by climbing a staircase up to the roof of the building where, after many hours, a hatch was sawed open for the group to access a fire escape and the safety of the police cars waiting below. While the artist’s oeuvre on display was not to be underestimated, what made this such a pivotal moment in Warhol’s career and in contemporary art as a whole, was that this was the beginning of the artist as a “personality” becoming more important than the art itself. Warhol’s art would continue to be central to the zeitgeist of the time but now the world had an artist as universally recognized as any A-list celebrity.

More central to the continuation of the ICA itself, the Retrospective also saw the birth of the center’s highly sought after Annual Benefit prints. The first publication was to be Warhol’s S&H Green Stamps, which were created in collaboration with the artist as a way to compensate for the substantial costs of the exhibition. Today, the ICA’s Annual Benefit continues the tradition of celebrating artists and other luminaries in the field of contemporary art with the issuing of limited edition prints. Each year, an artist’s work is chosen by the center to be published and presented to its donors and later made available to purchase by the public. We are pleased to offer a selection of these works published by the ICA, which has contributed so greatly to the contemporary art world that we know today.