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Encyclopedia > Independent Group

The Independent Group met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) London from 1952-55. The Group consisted of artists, architects, designers and critics who wanted to challenge prevailing modernist approaches to culture. They introduced mass culture into debates about high culture, re-evaluated modernism and created the "As Found" or "found object" aesthetic. The Group is currently the subject of renewed interest in our post disciplinary age, and was the subject of a two-day, international conference at the Tate Britain in March 2007. External view of the entrance to the ICA from the Mall. ... Tate Britain is a part of the Tate Gallery in Britain, along with Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. ...


First session (1952)

The Independent Group had its first meeting early in 1952 which consisted of Eduardo Paolozzi feeding a mass of colourful images from American magazines through an epidiascope. These images, collected when Paolozzi was resident in Paris during the late 1940s formed the basis of his BUNK series of Screenprints (1972) and the Krazy Kat Archives now held at the V & A Museum, London. The rest of the first Independent Group session concentrated on philosophy and technology during September 1952 to June 1953, and was chaired by design critic and historian, Reyner Banham. Key members at this stage included the artist Richard Hamilton, surrealist and magazine art director Toni del Renzio, sculptor William Turnbull and the photographer Nigel Henderson, along with Alloway and McHale. Year 1952 (MCMLII) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Paolozzis Newton, bronze (1995) in the courtyard of the British Library Paolozzi follows William Blakes 1795 print Newton in illustrating how Isaac Newtons equations changed our view of the world to being one determined by mathematical laws. ... The opaque projector, episcope or epidiascope is a predecessor to the overhead projector. ... Reyner Banham (1922-1988) was a prolific Anglo-American architectural critic and writer best known for his 1960 theoretical treatise Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, and his 1971 book Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies in which he categorized the Angelean experience into four ecological models... Richard Hamilton is the name of: Richard Hamilton (artist), a British painter and collage artist Richard Hamilton (basketball), a player with the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association Richard Hamilton (professor), Professor of Mathematics at Columbia University Richard Hamilton (actor) [1] This is a disambiguation page: a list of... Antonino Romanov del Renzio dei Rossi di Castellone e Venosa (Toni del Renzio) (15 April 1915- 7 January 2007) was of Italian/Russian parentage and for a period a leader of the British Surrealist Group. ...

Second session (1954)

The Group did not meet during late 1953 or early 1954, as they were concentrating on delivering a public programme of lectures at the ICA, Aesthetic Problems of Contemporary Art. New members joined the Independent Group for its second full session, including the architects Alison and Peter Smithson who had staged the highly significant exhibition, Parallel of Life and Art at the ICA in the Autumn of 1953. Reyner Banham stood down as chair of the Independent Group, as he was busy with his PhD thesis at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and in late 1954 Dorothy Morland asked the art critic Lawrence Alloway and fine artist John McHale to reconvene the Independent Group for its second session. The painter Magda Cordell and her husband, music producer Frank Cordell joined the Independent Group at this point. English architects Alison Smithson (1928-1993) and Peter Smithson (18 September 1923-3 March 2003) together formed an architectural partnership, and are often associated with the Brutalist style. ... Lawrence Alloway (London, 1926 - New York, January 2, 1990) was an English art critic and curator who worked in the United States from the 1960s. ... John McHale (born Maryhill, Glasgow 1922, died Houston,Texas 1978) was an artist, a founder member of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and a founder of the Independent Group, which was a British movement that originated Pop Art which grew out of a fascination with American mass culture and post... Frank Cordell (1918-1980) was an accomplished British music composer, arranger and conductor. ...

The second session focused on American mass culture such as Western movies, science fiction, billboards, car design and popular music. In having such discussions they drew upon Futurist, Surrealist, the Bauhaus, and Dada concepts. John McHale and Lawrence Alloway curated a Collages and Objects exhibition at the ICA in 1954, where McHale exhibited his formative Pop Art collages. Richard Hamilton organised an exhibition, Man, Machine and Motion in late 1955 at the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle and the ICA, which focussed on many Independent Group concerns. Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... Roadside billboards frequently encourage passersby to visit local businesses. ... Futurism was a 20th century art movement. ... Surrealism is an artistic movement and an aesthetic philosophy that aims for the liberation of the mind by emphasizing the critical and imaginative powers of the subconscious. ... For the British gothic rock band, see Bauhaus (band). ... Cover of the first edition of the publication, Dada. ...

This is Tomorrow (1956)

In 1956 the group came to wider public attention with its participation in the exhibition This is Tomorrow. The IG ceased to meet formally by 1955, but the IG members continued to meet informally right up to 1962/63, and the connections between the various members continued to bear fruit in the subsequent years of their creative practice. Year 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... This is Tomorrow was an seminal art exhibition in August 1956 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. ...


  • Anne Massey, The Independent Group: Modernism and Mass Culture in Britain, 1945-59, Manchester University Press, 1995.
  • David Robbins (Ed) The Independent Group: Postwar Britain and The Aesthetics of Plenty, MIT Press, 1990.

External links

  • The Independent Group web site

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