Ikon is 50. Established by a group of artists in 1965 as an “accessible place where the exchange of visual ideas can become a familiar reality”, it has grown to become an educational charity, internationally renowned for both artistic excellence and audience development.
There have been hundreds of exhibitions at Ikon, furthering artistic careers whilst being true to the ideals of our founders, and this selection is a celebration of such synergy. Comprising works donated for auction by some of today’s most important artists, all of whom have exhibited at Ikon, it embodies extraordinary generosity and goodwill. The auction itself is the culmination of a programme devised for our 50th year, with proceeds laying down the foundations for Ikon’s 50th Anniversary Endowment Fund, dedicated to the growth of our artistic programme.
The mutual dependence of subsidised and commercial sectors is what distinguishes the art world in the UK, making our situation enviable. The endorsement and critical commentary of curators have significant influence in the hugely profitable business of buying and selling art work, and this must not be forgotten by those shaping cultural policy. Artistic experience is essentially about communication within shared social space, but at the same time artists must keep body and soul together – for themselves at least! - and commercial activity is key. From the beginning Ikon has acknowledged this, doing much to stimulate an impulse for art collecting in Birmingham, and Sotheby’s could not have been more in tune with our vision.
Thanks to Artwise Curators for being so imaginative in their coordination and, above all, to the artists on this occasion, as ever, for giving us so much.