Brian Wallis’s Departure From ICP Was Months in the Making

Brian Wallis, photo courtesy ICP

Brian Wallis.


International Center of Photography (ICP) Chief Curator Brian Wallis’s exit from the institution was not a surprise, ARTnews has learned; he and ICP spent months preparing for the transition.

The International Center of Photography (ICP) announced today that Wallis, deputy director of exhibitions and collections and chief curator since 1999, will step down at the end of February. Prior to his appointment,  Wallis was a curator, writer, and editor at the forefront of critical thinking about photography,  particularly photojournalism, a background that seemed to run counter to ICP’s original mission to validate the medium. But during his tenure at the institution,  Wallis oversaw more than 150 exhibitions, many taking on political issues or controversial approaches to photography.

When he started at ICP 16 years ago, the institution had not yet moved from its original brownstone on the Upper East Side to its sleeker accommodations in Midtown.  Wallis won’t be there when the ICP makes its next move, to a newly renovated building on the Bowery. The ICP plans to open its doors there by 2016. Wallis told ARTnews this was a good time to leave as the “heavy lifting” of the move got underway; in the interim, ICP has moved its curatorial offices and collection to the Mana Contemporary storage, studio space and exhibition space campus in Jersey City, New Jersey.

But Wallis’s move was also prompted by the rare opportunity to work with former ICP Trustee Artur Walther, who has amassed a vast collection of contemporary photography from Africa, Asia, and Europe.  “Artur is undoubtedly one of the best collectors in the world, ” Wallis said in an interview. He is currently organizing the exhibition “The Order of Things,”  to open at the Walther Collection museum in Neu-Ulm/Burlafingen, Germany, on May 16.  The show and accompanying book will feature over 800 works by artists working with topologies, sequences, and grids.

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