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What Muir can do

With his connections to the elite of today's art, the Institute of Contemporary Arts' new chief can restore its former glory

The Institute of Contemporary Arts has apparently decided that it is a contemporary visual art venue first and foremost. This is probably true, both historically and today – and offers this much-criticised institution its best chance of future importance.

The way in which the ICA has declared a primary commitment to art is by appointing curator and writer Gregor Muir as its new executive director. Muir comes there from Hauser and Wirth, the successful commercial gallery, and has a longstanding involvement with the British art scene that he narrated in a book, Lucky Kunst: The Rise and Fall of Young British Art, about his friends, the original Hirst generation of young British artists (YBAs).

Muir's knowledge of and connections with the elite of today's art will mark a change of tone in the ICA's exhibitions. If anything, in recent years it has tried to position itself as an alternative art space promoting lesser known artists and post-YBA factions. This goes back to 1997 when it put on Die Young, Stay Pretty, one of the first exhibitions to claim to find the next big thing after YBA art, and has recently even included an exhibition by former Stuckist, Billy Childish.

I suspect we are now more likely to see big names and hot global art at the ICA, a return to the days when it showed such artists as Gerhard Richter and indeed Hirst. This is a good recipe for this venerable home of the British avant-garde to reclaim its laurels. Congratulations, and best of luck to Muir. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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