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Foster, Hal 1955- (Harold Foster)

Foster, Hal 1955- (Harold Foster)

PERSONAL:

Born August 13, 1955.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Princeton University, 105 & 314 McCormick Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Art historian, educator, writer, and editor. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, professor. Previously taught at Cornell University.

WRITINGS:

The Minks' Cry, pictures by Milo Mottola, Bay Press (Port Townsend, WA), 1982.

(Editor) The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, Bay Press (Port Townsend, WA), 1983, reprinted, New Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics, Bay Press (Port Townsend, WA), 1985.

Compulsive Beauty, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1993.

The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.

(Author of essays, with Paul Schimmel) Robert Gober, Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA), 1997.

(Editor, with Gordon Hughes) Richard Serra, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

Space Framed: Richard Gluckman Architect, Monacelli Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Design and Crime: And Other Diatribes, Verso (New York NY), 2003.

(With John Cullen Murphy) Return to Camelot, Fantagraphics (Seattle, WA), 2003.

(With Rosalind Kranss, Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh,) Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, Thames & Hudson (New York, NY), 2004.

Prosthetic Gods, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

Road to Sorrow's End, Fantagraphics (Seattle, WA), 2004.

(Editor, with Mark Francis) Pop, Phaidon (London, England), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Law and the Image: The Authority of Art and the Aesthetics of Law, edited by Costas Douzinas and Lynda Nead, University of Chicago Press, 1999. Contributor to periodicals, including October, Artforum, London Review of Books, Nation, and the New Left Review. Served as editor of the journal October.

SIDELIGHTS:

Hal Foster teaches about modernist and contemporary art and theory and also is interested in European cultural studies and architecture. He is the author or editor of numerous books focusing on his areas of interest, especially concerning modern art history and theory.

For example, in his book Compulsive Beauty, the author evaluates surrealism in a new light. In his theoretical examination, the author supplants the traditional view of surrealism as a movement of love and liberation with a darker view of this artistic movement, namely a view that in surrealism the artists are actually given over to depictions of repetition and the drive toward death. The author incorporates Freudian psychoanalysis into his assessment. Jack J. Spector, writing in the Art Journal, called Compulsive Beauty "an ambitious attempt to rethink the history of Surrealism in terms of postmodernism."

In his 1996 book, The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century, the author focuses on the development of art theory since 1960 and discusses the relationship between prewar and postwar avant-garde art. According to a contributor to Parachute: Contemporary Art Magazine, the author essentially "charts the complex genealogy of the theory and practice of contemporary art in the United States."

Examining the works of artists such as Andy Warhol, Mike Kelley, and Cindy Sherman, the author discusses "his ideation of the avant-garde and the regrounding of art in materiality," according to Library Journal contributor Martin R. Kalfatovic.

In The Return of the Real, Foster outlines what he sees as two phases of neo-avant-garde art and discusses the influences of avant-garde practices on contemporary aesthetic forms and also on cultural-political strategies. A Publishers Weekly contributor called The Return of the Real "a brilliant work" but noted that it is complex and meant for those familiar with the world of art criticism.

As the editor, with Gordon Hughes, of Richard Serra, Foster presents an examination of the work of the noted metal sculptor. The book includes six essays accompanied by photographs in an examination of the artist's work and philosophy. David McClelland, writing in the Library Journal, noted that this book primarily targets those well versed in art criticism and wrote that the book provides "an intensive gaze on particular segments of the artist's total oeuvre."

Foster is also the author of an essay for Space Framed: Richard Gluckman Architect. The book presents thirty-eight buildings and projects by Gluckman created primarily for art galleries and museums. The book includes photographs and drawings for projects such as the renovation and addition to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Museo Picasso in Malaga, Spain.

Design and Crime: And Other Diatribes is a series of essays by the author focusing on what he sees as the unfortunate marketing of culture and branding of identity. He also discusses what he views as spectacle architecture and examines modern art and art criticism in this look at problems in contemporary art, architecture, and design.

Foster is also the author, with Rosalind Kranss, Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, of Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism. The book provides a comprehensive history of art in the twentieth century, with a focus on how artists throughout the world sought to overturn traditions and expectations and set out to invent new practices and forms. The discussion is presented in a year-by-year approach and features more than one hundred short essays in which crucial events are described, such as the creation of a seminal work or the publication of an artistic manifesto. "Predictably, the chronological structure adopted by the authors works better at some points than at others," noted Charles Harrison in the Art Journal. "Not all years get a chapter, while some get more than one. The year 1959 gets four. Some chapters clearly benefit from the close focus on a historically specific issue." Overall, the authors explore modernism and postmodernism and the reactions of antimodernists. More than 600 seminal works of art are recreated in the book.

"When multiple writers collaborate on a textbook, they usually strive to merge their different voices into a single, seamless narrative," noted Pepe Karmel in Art in America. "In contrast, the four authors of Art since 1900 attempt to create a ‘dialogical’ history. Each writer begins by presenting the theoretical approach that will guide his or her discussion of the material." Noting that Foster contributes the majority of the book's essays, Karmel went on to write: "Time and again, Foster fulfills the book's pedagogical mission by boiling complex questions down to essentials."

In Prosthetic Gods, the author explores the work of key modernists in relation to "what might be called the psychohistorical analysis of twentieth-century art," as noted by Harry Cooper in a review in the Art Bulletin. In his analysis of the works of artists such as Paul Gaugin, Pablo Picasso, Robert Gober, and others, the author focuses on the artists' fascination with fictions of origin, either primordial and tribal or futuristic and technological. As a result, according to Foster, two primary forms came to dominate modernist art, namely, the primitive and the machine. The title for his psychoanalytical look at modern art comes from Sigmund Freud's pronouncement of "modern man as a ‘prosthetic God’ whose civilizing accomplishments battled his imperfectly renounced or sublimated instincts," as noted by Cooper.

Foster is also the editor, with London-based curator and writer Mark Francis, of Pop. The book features a series of essays that examine the international Pop Art movement that took place from the 1950s on through the 1970s. The movement was exemplified by artists such as Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter. Foster provides extended commentary on five chronological selections of artworks accompanied by excerpts from contemporary contextual writings, including artists' statements. Jack Perry Brown, writing in the Library Journal, commented that "this work is an important consideration of the electric … period it chronicles." Noting that the book contains many color and black-and-white examples of the artwork discussed, MBR Bookwatch contributor Diane Donovan also commented that "it's the rich, in-depth art and cultural survey" that makes the book unique.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Afterimage, January-February, 2005, review of Prosthetic Gods, p. 15.

Architects' Journal, November 30, 2000, Andrew Mead, review of Space Framed: Richard Gluckman Architect, p. 42.

Art Bulletin, September, 1994, James Elkins, review of Compulsive Beauty, p. 546; March, 2006, Harry Cooper, review of Prosthetic Gods, p. 194.

Artforum International, November, 1996, Charles Harrison, review of The Return of the Real, p. 30; September 2005, Richard Meyer, "October Revolution: Richard Meyer on Art since 1900," p. 57.

Art History, March, 1995, David Hopkins, review of Compulsive Beauty, p. 124; June, 1998, Mark Durden, review of The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century, p. 296.

Art in America, November, 1983, Joel Fineman, review of The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, p. 19; November, 2005, Pepe Karmel, "The October Century," review of Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, p. 61.

Art Journal, fall, 1994, Jack J. Spector, review of Compulsive Beauty, p. 108; summer, 2000, Roxana Marcoci, "The Anti-historicist Approach: Brancusi, ‘Our Contemporary,’" p. 19; winter, 2000, Robin Kelsey, "Doing Art Justice," p. 103; spring, 2006, Charles Harrison, "After the Fall," review of Art since 1900, p. 116.

C: International Contemporary Art, fall, 2004, Rosemary Heather, "Traumatophilia," p. 4.

California Bookwatch, January, 2007, review of Pop.

Canadian Art, summer, 2005, review of Art since 1900, p. 36.

Canadian Literature, winter, 1996, John Xiros Cooper, review of Compulsive Beauty, p. 123.

Choice, November, 1999, J. Weidman, review of Richard Serra, p. 528; July-August, 2005, J. Weidman, review of Art since 1900, p. 1974.

Christian Science Monitor, March 2, 1984, Steven Henry Madoff, review of The Anti-Aesthetic, p. 10.

French Review, May, 1996, Pamela Genova, review of Compulsive Beauty, p. 1038.

Interior Design, November, 2000, Stanley Abercrombie, review of Space Framed, p. 148.

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, fall, 1995, Daniel Herwitz, review of Compulsive Beauty, p. 433; winter, 2001, Charles Altieri, review of The Return of the Real, p. 103.

Library Journal, February 15, 1997, Martin R. Kalfatovic, review of The Return of the Real, p. 131; April 15, 1997, Susan Hamburger, "Absolute Magnitude," p. 124; September 15, 2000, David McClelland, review of Richard Serra, p. 68; May 1, 2005, Mary Hamel-Schwulst, review of Art since 1900, p. 82; February 15, 2006, Jack Perry Brown, review of Pop, p. 114.

London Review of Books, April 6, 2006, Francis Richard, "White Hat/Black Hat," review of Art since 1900, p. 22.

MBR Bookwatch, January, 2006, Diane C. Donovan, review of Pop.

Nation, December 26, 2005, Barry Schwabsky, "Octoberfest," review of Art since 1900, p. 43.

Newsweek, January 23, 1995, David Gates, "Felicia's Journey," p. 68; January 23, 1995, David Gates, "How Late It Was, How Late," p. 68.

New York Times Book Review, December 3, 2000, Martin Filler, "Architecture," p. 38.

Parachute: Contemporary Art Magazine, July-September, 1997, review of The Return of the Real, p. 58.

Publishers Weekly, September 2, 1996, review of The Return of the Real, p. 118.

Quarterly Review of Film and Video, May, 1990, Michael Walsh, review of Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics, p. 147; May, 1990, Michael Walsh, review of The Anti-Aesthetic, p. 147.

Reference & Research Book News, June, 1994, review of Compulsive Beauty, p. 38.

School Library Journal, November, 1982, review of The Mink's Cry, p. 83.

Times Higher Education Supplement, April 22, 1994, Jane Beckett, review of Compulsive Beauty, p. 32.

Times Literary Supplement, November 3, 2000, review of Richard Serra, p. 33; October 28, 2005, Timothy Hyman, "Dogma Days," review of Art since 1900, p. 10.

ONLINE

Princeton University Web site,https://webdb.princeton.edu/ (March 5, 2008), faculty profile of author.

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