London’s nabbed one of Gotham’s finest: After seven years as the executive director of Artists Space, Stefan Kalmár will take over as the head of the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. He succeeds Gregor Muir, who left the ICA in June to become director of Tate’s collection of international art.
“I’m honored to be joining the ICA, and am looking forward to shaping the institute’s future,”Kalmár said in a press release. “There really is no other organization like the ICA—indeed it is the birthplace of all ICAs.”
Kalmár’s tenure at Artists Space—the seminal New York alternative art space, founded in SoHo in 1972—was a downtown success story. In just a few years he injected the historically small and quiet institution with a radical edge, rediscovering out-there fringe figures from the past, and giving a platform to emerging artists, all contributing to one of the most serious and intellectually rigorous platforms in town. Notable shows staged by Kalmar include Danh Vō in 2010, Bernadette Corporation in 2012, and Hito Steyerl in 2015. He also launched a second space for the organization, at 55 Walker Street in TriBeCa, in 2012.
Kalmár came to Artists Space after serving as the director of the Kunstverein München in Munich, hopping on board in 2009. And while he took the reins in the middle of the financial crisis, Kalmár managed to keep the space afloat by stacking the board of directors with personalities as varied as current Sotheby’s bigwig Allan Schwartzman, dealer Lawrence Luhring, Frieze co-founder Amanda Sharp, and the artists Rirkrit Tiravanija and Rachel Harrison. In 2011, a group inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement took residence inside the Artists Space headquarters, and refused to leave, putting Kalmár in a tough spot (the board eventually asked the protestors to leave, and they departed, escorted out by security, after 28 hours of occupation).
Earlier this year, Kalmár announced that Artists Space would be leaving its home at 38 Greene Street in SoHo, which has been its home since 1993. A new location has not yet been announced. In the meantime, the TriBeCa space continues to operate.
Kalmár will begin his tenure at the ICA in November 2016.