The International Association of Aesthetics/Association Internationale d’Esthétique formally came into existence in 1988 at the XIth International Congress of Aesthetics in Nottingham, England. However, the history of international association in aesthetics goes back many years. It began with the First International Congress of Aesthetics organized by Max Dessoir in Berlin in 1913. A second congress took place in Paris in 1937. Interrupted by the Second World War, the congresses resumed in 1956, when the third congress was held in Venice. From that time until 1992 with the meeting in Madrid, congresses took place at four-year intervals: in Athens in 1960, Amsterdam in 1964, Upsala in 1968, Bucharest in 1972, Darmstadt in 1976, Dubrovnik in 1980, Montreal in 1984, and in Nottingham in 1988.
Before 1984 these meetings were arranged by the Comité International d’Esthétique. Its members included many of the most eminent scholars in aesthetics representing countries with a strong tradition in aesthetics, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, Japan, and the United States. At various times the Comité included Etienne Souriau, Mikel Dufrenne, Harold Osborne, Luigi Pareyson, Tonomobu Imamichi, Milan Damnjanovic, Thomas Munro, and many other distinguished scholars.
As interest in aesthetics increased throughout the world, this committee, which was self-appointed and self-perpetuating, became at the same time less active and unable to respond to the needs of the growing community of aestheticians. At the IXth International Congress in 1980 in Dubrovnik, the decision was made to establish an international association. A committee, partly appointed by the Comité and partly elected by the delegates present, was charged with drafting a constitution. The work of that committee was presented at the next congress at Montreal in 1984. A constitution that included membership for both national societies and individual scholars was adopted by the delegates present, and a provisional Executive Committee was elected to begin organizing the Association. Harold Osborne, who had been a member of the Comité and was instrumental in encouraging the organization of an international association, became our first President, planning was begun for future congresses and proposals made for additional activities of the Association. He has since been followed in office by Göran Hermerén, Arnold Berleant, Aleš Erjavec, Ken-ichi Sasaki, Heinz Paetzold, Jos de Mul, Curtis Carter, Gao Jianping, Jale Erzen, Miodrag Suvakovic and Rodrigo Duarte.
Since the election of officers at its formal inauguration in 1988, the IAA/AIE has carried on its activities on a regular basis. It has continued to organize international congresses, following the meeting in Nottingham with a congress in Madrid in 1992. Increasing interest in aesthetics and a greater concern for international communication and association led the Association to enlarge the geographical scope of the congresses and to arrange them at three-year intervals, first in Lahti, Finland in 1995, in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1998, in Tokyo, Japan in 2001, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2004, Ankara, Turkey in 2007, Beijing, China in 2010, Krakow, Poland in 2013 and Seoul, Korea in 2016 and Belgrade, Serbia in 2019. The Association also expanded its activities to include publication of the IAA Newsletter and, beginning in 1996, the International Yearbook of Aesthetics. In 2023, the International Congress was held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
The International Association for Aesthetics is a Member Organisation of the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH) since 2015.