This special issue of the Brooklyn Rail introduces AICA (the International Association of Art Critics), founded in Paris as a non-governmental organization affiliated with UNESCO in 1949, to a broader audience in the United States and elsewhere.
As the Iron Curtain was coming down, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Double Life of Véronique (1991) not only elegantly captured the emotional impact of Europe’s post-war division but also conveyed a brooding angst about the promised “European Union.”
A large white envelope addressed to the headquarters of AICA International at 32 rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, stamped Documents only, was mailed from New York on April 27, 2010. Last March, during my visit to the French capital to attend our annual administrative meeting, I found that envelope on a bookshelf in our office, stuck between two exhibition catalogues.
Art criticism and the making of art are inextricably intertwined. The whole system depends upon a set of relations that link art materials to artistic production to art promotion to art criticism to the market.
The International Association of Art Critics (AICA) was conjured into being, like a rib from its parent body, UNESCO, which had been established in 1945, in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.
For starters, I have to confess that as a European art professional I am ashamed of how little I know about European art criticism, and even European contemporary art at large.
A Story about a Culturally Relocated Person
Speech by Ilya Kabakov at the 28th IAAC/AICA Congress in Stockholm, Sweden (22 September 1994) (Extracts)
The circumstances of my appearance at this podium are fairly remarkable. Not thinking or even contemplating such a thing, I unexpectedly receive the news that I am supposed to speak at this Congress and that I have been chosen to do so.
Distinguished Polish art historian, professor Juliusz Starzyński, one of the five founders of the Polish section of AICA in 1955, came up with the subject and the program of the 1975 AICA Congress in Poland.
This was the summer before the Velvet Revolution: Vaclav Havel was in jail, Jan Urban was riding around on a bicycle in disguise, men in trench coats were threatening to shut down the exhibition. My first trip behind the Iron Curtain was surreal and fascinating.
Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known, (Oscar Wilde). AICA is about individuals, who happen to practice art criticism.