Hal Foster (art critic) bigraphy, stories - Art critic

Hal Foster (art critic) : biography

August 13, 1955 -

Harold Foss "Hal" Foster (born August 13, 1955) is an American art critic and historian. He was educated at Princeton University, Columbia University, and the City University of New York. He taught at Cornell University from 1991 to 1997 and has been on the faculty at Princeton since 1997. In 1998 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Foster's criticism focuses on the role of the avant-garde within postmodernism. In 1983, he edited The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, a seminal text in postmodernism. In Recodings (1985), he promoted a vision of postmodernism that simultaneously engaged its avant-garde history and commented on contemporary society. In The Return of the Real (1996), he proposed a model of historical recurrence of the avant-garde in which each cycle would improve upon the inevitable failures of previous cycles. He views his roles as critic and historian of art as complementary rather than mutually opposed.


After graduating from Princeton, Foster moved to New York City, where he worked for Artforum from 1977 to 1981. He was then an editor at Art in America until 1987, when he became Director of Critical and Curatorial Studies at the Whitney Museum.

In 1982, a friend from Lakeside School founded Bay Press to publish The Mink's Cry, a children's book written by Foster. In the following year Bay Press published The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, a collection of essays on postmodernism edited by Foster that became a seminal text of postmodernism. In 1985, Bay Press published Recodings, Foster's first collection of essays. The Anti-Aesthetic and Recordings were, respectively, Bay Press's best and second best selling titles. Foster founded Zone in 1985 and was its editor until 1992.

In 1991, Foster left the Whitney to join the faculty of Cornell University's Department of the History of Art. That same year, Foster became an editor of the journal October; he was still on the board as of 2011. In 1997 he joined the faculty of his undergraduate alma mater, Princeton University, in the Department of Art and Archaeology. In 2000 he became the Townsend Martin Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton. He chaired the Department of Art and Archaeology from 2005 to 2009. In September 2011 he was appointed to the search committee to find a new dean for Princeton's School of Architecture. He is a faculty fellow of Wilson College.

Foster received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1998. In 2010 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and awarded the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing by the Clark Art Institute. Spring 2011 he won a Berlin Prize fellowship of the American Academy in Berlin.


Books authored
  • The Mink's Cry, 1982. Bay Press.
  • Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics, 1985. Bay Press.
  • Compulsive Beauty, 1995. MIT Press.
  • The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century, 1996. MIT Press.
  • Design and Crime (And Other Diatribes), 2002. 2nd. ed, 2011. Verso Books.
  • Art Since 1900: Modernism, Anti-Modernism, Postmodernism, 2005. With Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, and Benjamin Buchloh. Thames & Hudson.
  • Pop (Themes & Movements), 2006. With Mark Francis. Phaidon Press.
  • Prosthetic Gods, 2006. MIT Press.
  • The Art-Architecture Complex, 2011. Verso Books.
  • The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha, 2011. Princeton University Press.
Books edited
  • The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, 1983. Bay Press. Published in the United Kingdom by Pluto Press as Postmodern Culture (1985).
  • Vision and Visuality, 1985. The New Press.
  • Discussions in Contemporary Culture, 1988. The New Press.
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