Hal Foster

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Harold Foss "Hal" Foster (1955) is an American art critic and historian. He is Townsend Martin '17 Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton and co-editor of October.


(in English unless noted otherwise)


  • The Mink's Cry, Port Townsend, WA: Bay Press, 1982. A children's story; illustrated by Milo Mottola. [1]
  • editor, The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, Port Townsend, WA: Bay Press, 1983, xvi+159 pp, PDF; repr., New York: New Press, 2002. Essays by Foster (preface), Habermas, Frampton, Krauss, Crimp, Owens, Ulmer, Jameson, Baudrillard, Said. Reviews.
    • La posmodernidad, Barcelona: Kairós, 1985, 238 pp, ARG. (Spanish)
    • Han bigaku: posuto modan no shosō [反美学 : ポストモダンの諸相], Tokyo: Keisō Shobō, 1987, 308 pp. (Japanese)
    • Fan mei xue: hou xian dai wen hua lun ji [反美學 : 後現代文化論集], Xin dian shi: Li xu, 1998, 270 pp. (Chinese)
  • Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics, Port Townsend, WA: Bay Press, 1985, ARG. A collection of criticism published 1982-85 mostly in Art in America and October, 9 texts, revised.
    • Recodificação: arte, espetáculo, política cultural, São Paulo: Paulista, 1996, 295 pp. (Brazilian Portuguese)
  • editor, Discussions in Contemporary Culture, Number One, Seattle: Bay Press, and New York: Dia Art Foundation, 1987, 172 pp, OL, ARG. [2] Based on a series of 6 weekly discussions organised by Foster at Dia Art Foundation in NYC, 10 Feb-17 Mar 1987. Texts by Crow, Rosler, Owens, Crimp, Kruger, Wodiczko, Fried, Krauss, Buchloh, Graham, Rankin, Kolbowski, Clifford, Dominguez, Minh-ha, Jardine, Feher.
  • editor, Vision and Visuality (Discussions in Contemporary Culture, 2), Seattle: Bay Press, and New York: Dia Art Foundation, 1988, 134 pp, ARG. [3] [4] Based on a day-long symposium held on 30 Apr 1988 at Dia's exhibition space in NYC. Texts by Jay, Crary, Krauss, Bryson, Rose.
    • Shikakuron [視覚論], trans. Kurenuma Norihisa, Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2000, 215 pp. (Japanese)
  • Compulsive Beauty, MIT Press, 1993, 344 pp, PDF, ARG. [5] A deconstructive reading of surrealism; based on author's dissertation. Reviews: Elkins (1994), Genova (1996), O'Brien (1997).
    • Belleza compulsiva, trans. Tamata Stuby, Buenos Aires: Adriana Hidalgo, 2008, 335 pp. Excerpt. Review: Eseverri. (Spanish)
    • Zoraki güzellik, trans. Şebnem Kaptan, Istanbul: Ayrıntı, 2011, 255 pp. (Turkish)
    • Gangbakjeok areumdaum [강박적 아름다움: 언캐니로 다시 읽는 초현실주의], trans. Juyeon Jo, Paju: Ateu Bukseu, 2018. (Korean)
  • The Return of the Real: Art and Theory at the End of the Century, MIT Press, 1996, 321 pp, Chs. 1-2, Chs. 5-7. [6] Suggests that after the models of art-as-text in the 1970s and art-as-simulacrum in the 1980s, we are now witness to a return to the real—to art and theory grounded in the materiality of actual bodies and social sites.
    • El retorno de lo real: la vanguardia a finales de siglo, trans. Alfredo Brotons Muñoz, Madrid: Akal, 2001, ARG. (Spanish)
    • Silchae ŭi kwihwan: 20-segi mal ui Abanggarŭdŭ, Pusan Kwangyŏksi: Kyŏsŏng Taehakkyo Ch'ulp'anbu, 2003, 362 pp. (Korean)
    • Le retour du réel: la situation actuelle de l'avant-garde, trans. Yves Cantaine, Frank Pierobon and Daniel Vander Gucht, Brussels: La lettre volée, 2005, 277 pp. (French)
    • Il ritorno del reale: l'avanguardia alla fine del Novecento, Milan: Postmedia, 2006, 255 pp. (Italian)
    • Gerçeğin geri dönüşü: yüzyılın sonunda avangard, trans. Esin Hoşsucu, Istanbul: Ayrıntı, 2009, 282 pp. (Turkish)
    • Powrót realnego: awangarda u schyłku XX wieku, trans. Mateusz Borowski and Małgorzata Sugiera, Kraków: Universitas, 2010, 281 pp. [7] (Polish)
    • Povratak realnog, Belgrade: Orion art, 2012, 248 pp. (Serbian)
    • O retorno do real: a vanguarda no final do século XX, trans. Célia Euvaldo, São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2014. (Brazilian Portuguese)
  • editor, with Gordon Hughes, Richard Serra, MIT Press, 2000, 205 pp. Essays by Buchloh, Michelson, Bois, Crimp, Krauss, Foster.
  • Design and Crime (And Other Diatribes), London: Verso, 2002, 176 pp; Verso, 2010, 192 pp, PDF, ARG. [8] On "political economy of design: .. the marketing of culture and the branding of identity, the development of spectacle-architecture and the rise of global cities." Parts were first published in the London Review of Books. Reviews: Mudede (2002), Howard (2003), Atzmon (2006).
    • Design & crime, Milan: Postmedia, 2002, 141 pp. (Italian)
    • Diseño y delito y otras diatribas, trans. Alfredo Brotons Muñoz, Madrid: Akal, 2004, 176 pp. (Spanish)
    • Tasarım ve suç: müze - mimarlık - tasarım, trans. Elçin Gen, Istanbul: İletişim, 2004, 198 pp. (Turkish)
    • Dizajn i zločin (i druge polemike), trans. Goran Vujasinović, Zagreb: V.B.Z., 2006, 156 pp. (Croatian)
    • Design & crime, trans. Christophe Jacquet, Laure Manceau, Gauthier Herrmann, et al., Paris: Les Prairies ordinaires, 2008, 184 pp. (French)
    • Dezain to hanzai [デザインと犯罪], trans. Igarashi Kōji, Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2011, 267 pp. (Japanese)
    • Design & Verbrechen und andere Schmähreden, trans. Thomas Atzert, Berlin: Tiamat 2012, 222 pp. (German)
    • Design a zločin, Prague: Fra, forthcoming. (Czech)
  • with Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, and Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, London: Thames & Hudson, 2004, 704 pp; 2nd ed., rev., 2012, 816 pp; 3rd ed., upd. & exp., 2016, 896 pp. [9] Reviews: Bishop (2005), Collings (2005), Gewen (2005), Bryson (2005), Karmel (2005), (2005 PT), Richard (LRB 2006), Dahlberg (2006).
    • Arte desde 1900: modernidad, antimodernidad, posmodernidad, trans. Fabián Chueca, Francisco López and Alfredo Brotons Mun̋oz, Madrid: Akal, 2006, 704 pp. (Spanish)
    • Arte dal 1900: modernismo, antimodernismo, postmodernismo, trans. Elio Grazioli, Bologna: Zanichelli, 2006, 704 pp. (Italian)
    • Umění po roce 1900: modernismus, antimodernismus, postmodernismus, trans. Josef Hrdlička, Irena Ellis and Jitka Sedláčková, Prague: Slovart, 2007, 704 pp. (Czech)
    • Iskusstvo s 1900 goda: modernizm, antimodernizm, postmodernizm [Искусство с 1900 года: модернизм, антимодернизм, постмодернизм], trans. G. Abdushelishvili, et al., Moscow: Ad Marginem, 2015, 816 pp. [10] (Russian)
  • Prosthetic Gods, MIT Press, 2004, 455 pp. Argues that two forms came to dominate modernist art above all others: the primitive and the machine; follows upon Foster's Compulsive Beauty. Reviews: Cohen (2005), Bowring (2005), Hopkins (2005), Cooper (2006).
    • Dioses prostéticos, trans. Alfredo Brotons Muñoz, Madrid: Akal, 2008, 383 pp. (Spanish)
  • editor, with Mark Francis, Pop, London: Phaidon, 2005. [11]
  • The Art-Architecture Complex, London: Verso, 2011, 316 pp, EPUB. [12] Argues that a fusion of architecture and art is a defining feature of contemporary culture; identifies a "global style" of architecture—as practiced by Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano—analogous to the international style of Le Corbusier, Gropius and Mies. Reviews: Moore (2011), Long (2012), Cava (2012), Home (2013), Petts (2014).
    • El complejo arte-arquitectura, trans. José Adrián Vitier, Madrid: Turner, 2013, 346 pp. (Spanish)
    • Sanat mimarlık kompleksi: Küreselleşme çağında sanat, mimarlık ve tasarımın birliği, trans. Serpil Özaloğlu, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2013, 365 pp. (Turkish)
    • Āto kenchiku fukugōtai [アート建築複合態], trans. Takimoto Masashi, Tokyo: Kajimashuppankai, 2014, 374 pp. (Japanese)
  • The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha, Princeton University Press, 2012, 352 pp. [14] [15] Suggests that the work of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter and Ruscha in the mid-to-late 1950s registers most suggestively a shift in the status of image and subjectivity. Reviews: Wagner (LRB 2012), Ionescu (2014).
    • Daiichi poppu jidai: hamiruton rikutensutain uōhōru rihitā rushē aruiwa poppu āto o meguru itsutsu no imēji [第一ポップ時代: ハミルトン, リクテンスタイン, ウォーホール, リヒター, ルシェー, あるいはポップアートをめぐる五つのイメージ], trans. Nakano Tsutomu, Tokyo: Kawadeshobōshinsha, 2014. (Japanese)
    • Cheot beonjjae pap ateu sidae [첫 번째 팝 아트 시대: 해밀턴, 릭턴스타인, 워홀, 리히터, 루셰이의 회화와 주체성], trans. Juyeon Jo, Seoul: Wokeurum Peureseu, 2021. Template:Kr
  • Bad New Days: Art, Criticism, Emergency, London: Verso, 2015, 208 pp, PDF. Examines the evolution of art and criticism in Western Europe and North America over the last 25 years, exploring their dynamic relation to the general condition of emergency instilled by neoliberalism and the war on terror; and offers several paradigms for the art of recent years, which he terms “abject,” “archival,” “mimetic,” and “precarious.“ Reviews: Steven (Affirmations 2015), Dillon (Guardian 2015), Wetzler (ArtNews 2015).
    • Bad new days: arte, critica, emergenza, Milan: Postmedia books, 2019, 177 pp. (Italian)
    • Zítra bude hůř: umění, kritika, nouzový stav, trans. Magdalena Jadwiga Härtelová, Prague: Centrum pro současné umění Praha, and INI Project, 2021, 149 pp. Publisher. (Czech)
  • Brutal Aesthetics: Dubuffet, Bataille, Jorn, Paolozzi, Oldenburg, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020, 296 pp. Publisher.


  • "The Problem of Pluralism", Art in America, Jan 1982; rev. as "Against Pluralism", in Foster, Recodings, 1985, pp 13-32.
    • Contra el pluralismo, trans. Desiderio Navarro, Valencia: Episteme, 1998, 24 pp; repr. in La Gaceta de Cuba 5, La Habana, Sep-Oct 2000, pp 34-39. (Spanish)
  • "Between Modernism and the Media", Art in America (Summer 1982); rev. in Foster, Recodings, 1985, pp 33-58.
  • "Subversive Signs", Art in America (Nov 1982); rev. in Foster, Recodings, 1985, pp 99-118.
  • "The Expressive Fallacy", Art in America (Jan 1983); rev. in Foster, Recodings, 1985, pp 59-78.
  • "The Art of Spectacle", Art in America (Apr 1983); rev. as "Contemporary Art and Spectacle", in Foster, Recodings, 1985, pp 79-98.
  • "For a Concept of the Political in Art", Art in America (Apr 1984); rev. as "For a Concept of the Political in Contemporary Art", in Foster, Recodings, 1985, pp 139-156.
  • "(Post)Modern Polemics", New German Critique 33 (Fall 1984); repr. in Perspecta 21 (1984); rev. in Foster, Recodings, 1985, pp 121-138.
  • "The 'Primitive' Unconscious of Modern Art", October 34 (Fall 1985), pp 45-70; rev. as "The 'Primitive' Unconscious of Modern Art, or White Skin Black Masks", in Foster, Recodings, 1985, pp 181-210.
  • "Readings in Cultural Resistance", in Foster, Recodings, 1985, pp 157-180.
  • "The Crux of Minimalism", in Individuals: A Selected History of Contemporary Art, 1945-1986, ed. Howard Singerman, Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, and New York: Abbeville Press, 1986, pp 162-183; repr. as ch 2 in Foster, The Return of the Real, 1996, pp 35-70, n241-248; rev. as "Torn Screens", ch 7 in Foster, Prosthetic Gods, 2004, pp 256-301.
  • "The Passion of the Sign", ch 3 in Foster, The Return of the Real, 1996, pp 71-96, n249-253.
  • "The Art of Cynical Reason", ch 4 in Foster, The Return of the Real, 1996, pp 99-124, n253-260. [17]
  • "The Return of the Real", ch 5 in Foster, The Return of the Real, 1996, pp 127-168, n260-274.
  • "Whatever Happened to Postmodernism?", ch 7 in Foster, The Return of the Real, 1996, pp 205-226, n283-292.

Conversations, interviews[edit]


Exhibition reviews[edit]

in Artforum (selection)
in London Review of Books

Book reviews[edit]

in New Left Review
  • "Art Agonistes", New Left Review 8, Mar-Apr 2001, pp 140-149; repr. as "Art Critics in Extremis", ch 7 in Foster, Design and Crime, 2002, pp 104-122. Review of Newman's Challenging Art: Artforum. [24]
in London Review of Books
  • "Slumming with Rappers at the Roxy", 21 Sep 2000; repr. as "Brow Beaten", ch 1 in Foster, Design and Crime, 2002, pp 3-12. Review of Seabrook's Nobrow.
  • "Hey, that’s me: Bruce Mau", 5 Apr 2001; repr. as "Design and Crime", ch 2 in Foster, Design and Crime, 2002, pp 13-26. Review of Mau's Life Style. [25]
  • "Why all the hoopla?: Frank Gehry", 23 Aug 2001; repr. as "Master Builder", ch 3 in Foster, Design and Crime, 2002, pp 27-42. Review of Cohen's Frank Gehry.
  • "Bigness: Rem Koolhaas", 29 Nov 2001; repr. as "Architecture and Empire", ch 4 in Foster, Design and Crime, 2002, pp 43-62. Review of Koolhaas's Harvard Design School Guide and Great Leap Forward.
  • "Andy Paperbag: Andy Warhol", 21 Mar 2002. Review of Koestenbaum's Andy Warhol. [26]
  • "Expendabilia: Reyner Banham", 9 May 2002. Review of Whiteley's Reyner Banham. [27]
  • "Pop Eye: Handmade Readymades", 22 Aug 2002. Review of Lobel's Image Duplicator. [28]
  • "Nutty Professors: ‘Lingua Franca’", 8 May 2003. Review of Star's Quick Studies. [29]
  • "Long Live Aporia!: William Gaddis", 24 Jul 2003. Review of Gaddis' Agapē Agape and The Rush for Second Place. [30]
  • "Arty Party: from the ‘society of spectacle’ to the ‘society of extras’", 4 Dec 2003. Review of Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics and Postproduction and Obrist's Interviews I. [31]
  • "Go, Modernity: Norman Foster", 22 Jun 2006. Review of two books of Foster. [32]
  • "Wine Flasks in Bordeaux, Sail Spires in Cardiff: Richard Rogers", 19 Oct 2006. Review of Powell's books on Rogers. [33]
  • "Global Style: Renzo Piano", 20 Sep 2007. Review of Jodidio's and Buchanan's books on Piano.
  • "Crack Open the Shells: The Situationist Moment", 12 Mar 2009. Review of Debord's Correspondence.
  • "I am the decider: Agamben, Derrida and Santner", 17 Mar 2011. Review of Derrida's The Beast and the Sovereign. [34]
  • "Preposterous Timing", 8 Nov 2012. Review of Nagel's Medieval Modern and Powell's Depositions. [35]
  • "What's the Problem with Critical Art?", 10 Oct 2013. Review of Rancière's Aisthesis.
  • "Exhibitionists", 4 Jun 2015. Review of Obrist's Ways of Curating and Balzer's Curationism.


  • Hal Foster Annotates 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell' by William Blake, Marginalia, 2017. [36]