The Independent Group was a highly significant collection of writers, thinkers and creative practitioners which met at the ICA from 1952–5.
Most often valourised as the fathers of pop, the broader contribution of the Independent Group to critical thinking and creative practice about visual culture has been under-rated. Leading artists such as Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull; architects Alison and Peter Smithson, James Stirling and Colin St John Wilson and critics Lawrence Alloway and Reyner Banham all contributed to the interdisciplinary, group events.
The Independent Group looked at, discussed, analysed, wrote about, designed, built and assembled a galaxy of highly significant work exploring contemporary culture ‘as found’. Using a range of sources including the pages of science-fiction magazines, Jackson Pollock’s paintings, Hollywood film, helicopter design, the streets of London’s East End and modernist architecture the Independent Group created a radical approach to looking and working with visual culture. The approach was inclusive and respectful, drawing from inspiration as diverse as communication theory, anthropology and non-Aristotelean philosophy. The approach also spanned the entire cultural landscape of post-war Britain and inhabited the spaces between a multitude of concepts, practices and disciplines.