Hal Foster

Hal Foster teaches art history at Princeton. He has written widely on postmodernism, the avant-garde and aesthetic theory, both in the LRB and in his books, which include Recodings, The Return of the Real and The First Pop Age. He edited the influential essay collection The Anti-Aesthetic.

We are our apps: Visual Revolutions

Hal Foster, 5 October 2023

Arthistory was shaken in the 1970s and 1980s, and the epicentre was 19th-century art. Emboldened by the resurgent Marxism and feminism of the 1960s, engaged scholars including T.J. Clark, Thomas Crow, Linda Nochlin and Griselda Pollock asked difficult questions about class, audience, gender and sexuality, questions that were soon rumbling through other fields as well. Yet disruptive though...

Originstories of artists are ubiquitous, but those of art historians are not. Yve-Alain Bois, the pre-eminent French art historian of his generation, narrates his own beginning in this book about his key encounters with artists, theorists and curators. Born in 1952, Bois travels with his mother and little brother from a small town near Bordeaux to Paris (he thinks he was nine, she puts...

T.J.Clark begins If These Apples Should Fall with a restaging of his first encounter with Cézanne, when as a 15-year-old in 1958 he was amazed by a reproduction of The Basket of Apples: ‘I think I can retrieve the feeling even sixty years later.’ This is one version of ‘the present’ in his subtitle, the summoning of a then of Cézanne painting and Clark...

Massive Egg: Skies over Magritte

Hal Foster, 7 July 2022

Biographies​ of artists often tie the art too directly to the life, as though dramatic experiences were iconographic keys that unlock the work once and for all. Early accounts of artists were modelled on the legends of heroes and saints, and even today they tend towards the epic in scope and hagiographic in tone. Magritte mostly avoids these traps; it is deeply researched, stylishly written...

There​ is an urgent project in the humanities today to ‘provincialise Europe’, to open its cultural histories to critical views from elsewhere. One of the project’s imperatives is to decolonise European modernist art, to reveal its underpinnings in empire, including movements such as Surrealism that were more engaged than most with other perspectives and places. In...

When Hal Foster uses the word ‘first’ in the title of his confidently focused study, he means to start us thinking about Pop now and then. It is a reference to Reyner Banham’s

Read more reviews

White Hat/Black Hat: 20th-Century Art

Frances Richard, 6 April 2006

Helen Gardner’s benevolently dictatorial Art through the Ages was published in 1926, and remained the pre-eminent survey for American undergraduates until 1962, when H.W. Janson’s

Read more reviews

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences