The AIA embraced all styles of art, both modernist and traditional, and its aim was the ‘Unity of Artists for Peace, Democracy and Cultural Development’. It held a series of large group exhibitions on political and social themes beginning in 1935 with the exhibition Artists Against Fascism and War. The AIA supported the left-wing Republican side in the Spanish Civil War (1936–9) through exhibitions and other fund-raising activities. It tried to promote wider access to art through travelling exhibitions and public mural paintings. In 1940 it published a series of art lithographs titled Everyman Prints in large, and therefore cheap, editions.
The society was active until 1971.