Hal Foster

Townsend Martin, Class of 1917, Professor of Art and Archaeology
Office Phone
1S-7 Green Hall


Professor Foster teaches and publishes in the areas of modernist and contemporary art, architecture, and theory. He is a member of the School of Architecture and an associate member of the Department of German; in addition, he sits on the executive committee of the Program in Media & Modernity. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Foster was a founding editor of Zone Magazine and Books, and he writes regularly for October (which he co-edits), Artforum, and The London Review of Books. He is the recipient of Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism in College Art Association in 2012 and the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing in 2010, and he has been the Siemens Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin and the Paul Mellon Senior Fellow at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. In 2018 he delivered the A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts at the National Gallery.

Teaching Interests

Professor Foster offers both undergraduate lecture courses in 20th-century art and graduate seminars on prewar and postwar topics. A particular interest is the relation between art and philosophy at times of political crisis. Periodically, Foster has taught with Leah Dickerman of the Museum of Modern Art and Yve-Alain Bois of the Institute for Advanced Study on such subjects as Dada and abstraction.

Current Research

Foster is presently at work on a book about “banal aesthetics,” which considers the various ways in which 20th-century artists and writers are drawn to the commonplace, the everyday, the trivial, the vulgar, and the vernacular.


Ph.D., CUNY Graduate Center, 1990

Selected Publications

Brutal Aesthetics: Dubuffet, Bataile, Jorn, Paolozzi, Oldenburg (Princeton University Press, 2020).

What Comes After Farce? Art and Criticism at a Time of Debacle (Verso, 2020).

Conversations about Sculpture, with Richard Serra (Yale University Press, 2018).

Bad New Days: Art, Criticism, Emergence (Verso, 2015).

Junkspace with Running Room, with Rem Koolhaas (Nottinghill Editions, 2013).

The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein,Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha (Princeton, 2012).

The Art-Architecture Complex (Verso, 2011).

Art Since1900: Modernism, Anti-Modernism, Postmodernism,with R. Krauss, Y-A Bois, & B. Buchloh (Thames & Hudson, 2004).

Prosthetic Gods (MIT, 2004).

Design and Crime, and Other Diatribes (Verso, 2002).

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

20th-Century Art
Home Department and Other Affiliations
Art & Archaeology
Department of German
School of Architecture