Hal Foster

Townsend Martin, Class of 1917, Professor of Art and Archaeology
20th-Century Art
(609) 258-3790
Email Address: 
Office Location: 
1S-7 Green Hall


Ph.D., CUNY Graduate Center, 1990

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 co-directs the Program in Media & Modernity and sits on the executive committees of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities and the Gauss Seminars in Criticism. 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 coedits), Artforum, and The London Review of Books. He is the recipient of the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism in College Art Association (2012) and the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing (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. Foster will deliver the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery in spring 2018.

Teaching Interests

Professor Foster teaches a wide array of classes, including the proseminar in methodology. He 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, abstraction, and Robert Rauschenberg.

Current Research

Foster is presently at work on an account of the avant-garde in states of emergency and a theory of modernism as a way (in the words of Walter Benjamin) “to outlive culture, if need be.”

Publications List: 
Selected Publications

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

Bad New Days: Art, Criticism, Emergency (Verso, 2105).

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

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

The Art-Architecture Complex (Verso, 2011).

Art Since 1900: Modernism, Anti-Modernism, Postmodernism, coauthored with Rosalind Krauss, Yves-Alain Bois, and Benjamin Buchloh (Thames & Hudson, 2004; second edition, 2011).

Prosthetic Gods (MIT Press, 2004).

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

The Return of the Real (MIT Press, 1996).

Compulsive Beauty (MIT Press, 1993).

Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics (New Press, 1985).