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The Independent Group

In 1952 a group of young artists, architects and critical thinkers formed a discussion group that met at the recently formed Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. The Independent Group, as it soon became known, were anti-academic and anti-elitist. They did not view culture as a hierarchy with fine art at the pinnacle, but as a continuum between 'high' and 'low' culture.

The Independent Group has often been seen as the forerunner of 1960s Pop Art because its members analysed 1950s culture in the widest sense, breaking down barriers between fine art and mass media imagery. Britain at this time was a place of austerity and the group looked to America and celebrated the 'knowing consumer'. Their work took inspiration from a range of sources: American advertising, car design, fashion, sci-fi comics, mechanics, abstract painting, Western movies and architecture. Much of their work was also influenced by Surrealist and Dadaist strategies. Eduardo Paolozzi, William Turnbull and Nigel Henderson had met the artists Alberto Giacometti, Fernand Léger, Jean Arp, Tristan Tzara and  Marcel Duchamp in post-war Paris.

Although the Independent Group disbanded in 1955, the most important group manifestation of their ideas was the seminal exhibition 'This is Tomorrow' at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in August-September 1956. The 12 environments created by groups of artists, architects and thinkers greatly influenced subsequent installation art.

Key works include: '4 Mural Panels (Screen)' (1949-52 and 1960) by Nigel Henderson and 'Hers is a Lush Situation' (1958) by Richard Hamilton.