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International Center of Photography - A New Beginning for the Iconic Institution

  • The International Center of
January 2, 2016
Passionate about art, frequent visitor of exhibitions, Widewalls photography specialist.

For Cornell Capa, photography was ””the most vital, effective and universal means of communication of facts and ideas.” Some may know him as the younger brother or noted photojournalist Robert Capa. Others know him as the founder of the International Center of Photography, one of the world’s most important institutions dedicated to the medium. After the untimely deaths of his talented brother in the war field in 1954, and other important photographers of the time, liker Werner Bischof and Dan Weiner, Cornell Capa vowed to preserve their valuable works. In 1966, he founded the International Fund for Concerned Photography, and in 1974, the ICP became the Fund’s home. Mr Capa died in 2008, but his Center remains crucial for the development of the medium, with their dedicated exhibition and educational programs, the School and the prestigious Infinity Awards. For 2016, the International Center of Photography has big plans and a brand new location, to mark the beginning of a new era.

Cornell Capa in front of the ICP. Courtesy International Center of, photo by Orin Langelle museum york midtown city 2014 museum
Cornell Capa in front of the ICP. Courtesy International Center of Photography, photo by Orin Langelle

The International Center of Photography – Four Decades of Diligence

With more than 165,000 visitors a year and over important 700 exhibitions to date, the International Center of Photography represents one of the most experimental, innovative and successful institutions dedicated to the promotion, practice and the understanding of the photographic image. Since its earliest days, it has provided home for a large amount of socially concerned imagery, as an opportunity for a larger audience to see many topics too often ignored by art museums. As part of the ICP, there is three main educational initiatives/ The School, opened in 2001, offers 400 courses of Photography and Documentary Photography, Photojournalism and New Media Narratives to about 5,000 schools each year. Public programs reference the issues between the medium and art, culture and society, through seminars, symposia, talks, panel discussions and lectures held by prominent professionals, artists, scholars and historians. The ICP’s Community programs focus on exhibitions, interactive tours, workshops, as well as summer and internship programs.

The International Center of Photography is also the host of the Infinity Awards, inaugurated in 1985 ”to bring public attention to outstanding achievements in photography by honoring individuals with distinguished careers in the field and by identifying future luminaries.” The prize is given out annually, to talented photographers working in the fields of art, fashion, photojournalism, publication, to young photographer, trustees and writers, with special categories for the Cornell Capa and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The International Center of museum york midtown city 2014 museum
The Permanent Collection of ICP is now housed by Mana Contemporary in New Jersey, within an entension space four times larger than its current provisions

The Collection

The center’s impressive permanent collection, home to more than 150,000 historical prints by some of the most groundbreaking photographers of the 20th century, has been growing exponentially since the institution’s early days in 1974. Over the last forty years, the ICP has acquired true gems of the history of photography, including numerous daguerreotypes, gelatin silver and digital chromogenic prints, thus building one of the most important collections of American and European documentary photography spanning half a decade. Among them, there are large bodies of work by legends like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Lisette Model, Robert Frank, Andre Kertesz, Garry Winogrand, Carrie Mae Weems, Vik Muniz and many others. Since 2015, the center’s collection found an extended home at New Jersey’s Mana Contemporary, within a 15,000 square foot space which also contains a media lab, research areas and an exhibiting gallery.

The International Center museum york midtown city 2014 museum
The International Center of Photography has hosted numerous important exhibition throughout its 40-year history

ICP Moves to the Bowery

As a non-profit institution, the International Center of Photography is on a quest to re-invent its own image in order to fit in the digital era and to attract new benefactors. According to the New York Times and the center’s director Mark Lubell, the right direction for it is the move to the Bowery, from their longtime location on 43rd Street at Avenue of the Americas in Midtown. This Manhattan neighbourhood developed into one of the most dynamic cultural areas of the city, in the last few years in particular. The ICP will continue their practice there in the first months of 2016, after the last exhibition of works by Sebastiao Salgado in the old building closed in January 2015. While the ICP Museum and Store will relocate downtown, their School and Library will remain in their current location.

   Editors’ Tip: International Center of Photography – Encyclopedia of Photography

Because the ICP is such an important institution in the history of the medium, it is only expected for them to release seminal publication regarding this kind of image-making. This book has every definition you could ever want about film photography, accompanied by full-color photos and camera info. With their new venue opening, we can expect even more books such as this one, and if you’re too eager and cannot wait, we suggest you visit their marvellous bookshop, where you can find just about anything you could ever want.

All images used for illustrative purposes only.