International Association of Art Critics (AICA) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded five years after World War II by the newly formed (1945) United Nations. In addition to basic postwar reconstruction efforts, the UN also sought to revive the networks of communication and discourse that were suppressed under Fascism and severely disrupted by war.
Aesthetics were among the discourses they prioritized, and under UN auspices a diverse roster of art critics, art historians, educators, and curators from museums of modern art gathered at two congresses at UNESCO Headquarters between 1948 and 1949. Their aim was to strengthen the vocation of art criticism, to analyze how criticality related to artists and public, and to outline how the work of critics related to the fields of art history. Convening from around the world, they included André Chastel, Jorge Crespo de la Serna, Pierre Courthion, Charles Estienne, Chou Ling, Miroslav Micko, Sergio Milliet, Marc Sandoz, Gino Severini, James Johnson Sweeney, Albert Tucker, Lionello Venturi, Eduardo Vernazza, Marcel Zohar, Paul Pierens, and Herbert Read.
The International Association of Art Critics (AICA) was founded in 1950 and was admitted in 1951 to the rank of NGO. AICA comprises various experts committed to the development of international co-operation in the fields of artistic creation, dissemination and cultural development. The main objectives of AICA have change little over the years. However, they were redefined in November 2003 to emphasize the global reach of the association, its cross-cultural ambitions and its interdisciplinary approach. They are:
- to promote art criticism as a discipline and contribute to its methodology.
- to protect the ethical and professional interests of its membership and defend their rights.
- to encourage professional relationships within its active international member network.
- to contribute to mutual understanding of visual aesthetics across cultural boundaries.
- to defend impartially freedom of expression and thought and oppose arbitrary censorship.
One of AICA's founding principles was a statement against censorship, and both the National Sections and AICA International report on specific examples of censorship and make public statements in support of freedom of expression. AICA's standing Commission on Censorship & Freedom of Expression was established to develop a strategic policy on artistic freedom of expression and considered responses to cases of censorship of exhibitions, individual artworks and artists, and the suppression or censorship of critical writing.
AICA International is headquartered in Paris. At present there are 63 member nations representing more than 4,000 art critics, including AICA-USA.