Founded in 1963, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania has developed an international reputation as a preeminent venue for contemporary art and culture. ICA is widely known for exhibiting artists at critical points in their careers. It organized the first museum shows on the work of Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Robert Indiana, and Agnes Martin. A non-collecting museum, ICA is also one of the only kunsthalles in America.
When Los Angeles-based artist Jason Rhoades (1965–2006) died unexpectedly at the age of 41, he left behind a body of work comprised of massive installations that are as physically complex as they are intellectually challenging. The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), known since its opening in 1963 as an ardent champion of influential but under-recognized artists, took on the challenge of presenting the first comprehensive survey in the United States of Rhoades' all-embracing vision. On view from September to December 2013 and curated by ICA Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner, the show was organized principally around four room-sized sculptures dating from 1993 to 2006 that were borrowed from collectors in Europe. Using neon, plastic buckets, power tools, snaking wires, figurines, sound, and a vast range of other materials, including a V-8 engine, Rhoades' work evokes a raw, excessive, unapologetically American consumer culture run amuck. The show was accompanied by a substantial multi-author catalogue, and later traveled to Europe.