Stefan Kalmár Appointed Director of the ICA in London

Stefan Kalmár ends a highly successful tenure at Artists Space to take the job.

Stefan Kalmár. Photo courtesy of the ICA.

Stefan Kalmár will leave Artists Space in New York to become director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. He will succeed Gregor Muir, who is moving to Tate in January 2017, to take up his new position as director of collection, international art.

Kalmár has been executive director and curator at New York’s Artists Space since 2009, where he built on the rich history of the space pushing for further innovation and bringing much critical acclaim to the historic location.

“I’m honored to be joining the ICA, and am looking forward to shaping the Institute’s future. There really is no other organization like the ICA—indeed it is the birthplace of all ICA’s,” Stefan Kalmár said in a statement. “70 years ago its founders had the simple yet powerful vision of an organization in which different modes of cultural production could thrive on their engagement with each other.”

The ICA, situated on the Mall, near Buckingham Palace, was founded in 1946, and has played a role in highlighting historical movements such as Pop Art, Op Art, and Brutalist architecture. It has represented cultural phenomena from Detroit techno to punk, and played an introductory role in the careers of artists such as Richard Prince, Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon, Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger, Dieter Roth, Francis Picabia, and Asger Jorn.

“Historically, the ICA has always critically reflected on the role that contemporary art and culture play within the larger socio-economic conditions of their times,” Kalmár’s statement continues. “Facing today’s complex local and global challenges, the ICA’s outspoken voice is needed more than ever, and by placing artists and ideas at the heart of all our programming decisions, I believe the ICA has all the tools to be that unique, Utopian model—simply one of the most progressive organizations for the 21st Century!”

This is great news for the ICA which comprises of a cinema, exhibition space, performance space, and a bar. Praised for his programming at Artists Space, Kalmár expanded the board, increased its income threefold, and introduced a second venue in the form of a forum for discourse: Artists Space Books & Talks.

“We are truly delighted to welcome Stefan Kalmár as Director of the ICA. Stefan has had an extraordinary impact in the cultural world through his time in London, Germany and New York,” said Alison Myners, chair of the ICA council. “His longstanding relationships with artists and art audiences alike, outstanding exhibition programming and his passion for addressing social issues will bring a wealth of excitement, energy, and vitality to the ICA. He is a true innovator. I look forward to working with Stefan as we build upon Gregor Muir’s achievements as Director and develop plans for the ICA’s future.”

The new position will mark a return to London for Kalmár. Before Artists Space, he was artistic director at Cubitt Gallery in London until 1999; director of the Institute of Visual Culture in Cambridge, England until 2004; then moving to Munich to become director of Kunstverein München until 2009, when he made the move to New York to join Artists Space.

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