Book Release: Exit Interview: Benjamin Buchloh in conversation with Hal Foster

April 23, 2024

Released on April 23, 2024, Exit Interview: Benjamin Buchloh in conversation with Hal Foster features two of the most important voices in art history discussing their intellectual foundations, the changing role of criticism, and the possibilities for artistic practice today.

In Exit Interview, prominent art critics and historians Hal Foster and Benjamin Buchloh discuss their intellectual foundations and the projects they’ve worked on together, from October magazine to Art Since 1900. Through three engaging conversations, Foster engages Buchloh on his early influences and aspirations, his formative years in Berlin, London, and Dusseldorf, and his career in North America, while exploring the impact of other art historians and critics. Buchloh candidly addresses his successes, critical significance, and unexplored avenues in art history, providing a unique window into his motivations and experiences. With a powerful postface by Buchloh, Exit Interview builds from biography and anecdote to important reflection on one’s critical life as a whole.

The book was published with funding from the Barr Ferree fund.

Benjamin Buchloh's Exit Interview

Hal Foster and Benjamin Buchloh sit side by side in conversation

Hal Foster and Benjamin Buchloh (Photo/Kirstin Ohrt)

The Program in Media and Modernity and A&A welcomed Buchloh to campus on April 9, 2024 to discuss the new book.  Buchloh was joined in conversation by Foster and Yve-Alain Bois, to whom he dedicated the final chapter “Words of Mouth, End of Critics.“ 

Along with these prominent voices, the room was filled to capacity with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty from A&A, among diverse disciplines. The conversation was reflective and frank, interrogating Buchloh’s long and storied career—along with its blind spots.

"With a conceptual specificity and discursive fluidity attesting to the forty years of dialogue that lay behind the conversation, Bois, Buchloh, and Foster worked through such fundamental questions as the difference between historicism and historicity, the relationship between art and politics, and the temporal structure of aesthetic experience, all of which were grounded in the book's revelatory biographical insights and animating critical tensions," said graduate student Samuel Shapiro.

Explaining the book’s title, for which he claimed full (admittedly masochistic) responsibility, Buchloh identified the current historical transition as the dissolution of the critic’s domain. Globalization, market forces, and the ever-expanding internet are among factors he sees changing the cultural sphere. “Perhaps there is no reason to bemoan the loss of a hierarchical privilege—that some people have a better vision and a better insight and a more competent voice than other people,” he said.

"While Buchloh might call it an exit interview, it’s an invaluable map of challenging intellectual terrain for me," said Shapiro. 

Foster pointed to the arrival of a new form of criticism in and around the blind spots. “It might be your exit or my exit,” he said, “but it’s not the exit.”

A group sits around a table surrounded by audience members

The School of Architecture room was filled to capacity with students and faculty interested in the conversation between Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster, and Yve-Alain Bois (Photos/Kirstin Ohrt)