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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.

Robert Morris

Robert Morris is a pioneering conceptual artist and theorist, playing a central role in the emergence of Minimalism, Process Art and Land Art in the 1960s and 1970s. Morris was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1931 and studied engineering and philosophy and, later, art and art criticism at Hunter College. Morris began as a painter and his early sculptures came out of the Judson Dance Theater he founded with his wife Simone Forti in 1962, which explored improvisation and ephemerality, and valued process over outcome. His first minimalist sculptures, industrial and rudimentary, were made as props for dance performances. Minimalism emphasized the direct experience of the art object itself, rather than what it represented or expressed and Morris pushed this thinking even further in the 1970s, placing importance in the underlying concepts of a work, rather than the physical object that the idea produces. He uses materials such as felt, dirt and thread waste to create subversive works that rejected the prominence of the art object and focuses on the viewer’s engagement with the work in time and space. Morris detailed these radical theories in essays published in Artforum beginning in 1966. His diverse and experimental body of work often deals with themes of feminism, war, memory and relational experience, and interrogating political and societal structures.

Auction Results Robert Morris