Independent was conceived and initiated in 2009 by Elizabeth Dee, Darren Flook, Matthew Higgs and Laura Mitterrand, with a consortium of like-minded commercial and non-profit galleries. The first edition took place in the former Dia Center for the Arts and former home of X Initiative at 548 West 22nd Street. This was the first fair to take place in a former museum, a landmark building in Chelsea’s gallery district. The inaugural edition included 40 international exhibitors in March 2010.
Following the critical success of the first three editions, in 2014 Independent launched Independent Projects—a two-week platform of solo exhibitions during New York's auction week in November 2014.
In 2016, Independent relocated the New York edition to Spring Studios in Tribeca. As the founding visual cultural partner of Spring Studios and Spring Place, Independent joins the ecosystem of Tribeca Film Festival as the two public events to take place annually in this location.
2016 also marked Independent’s expansion to Europe. Independent Brussels was inaugurated the same year at the historic Vanderborght, a former department store in the center of Brussels, Belgium. The project was founded by the City of Brussels in collaboration with founders Elizabeth Dee and Laura Mitterrand. This unique partnership with the Ministry of Culture and the City of Brussels has allowed for further support of the European ecosystem for galleries internationally.