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The Return of the Real: Art and Theory at the End of the Century

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  390 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
In The Return of the Real Hal Foster discusses the development of art and theory since 1960, and reorders the relation between prewar and postwar avant-gardes. Opposed to the assumption that contemporary art is somehow belated, he argues that the avant-garde returns to us from the future, repositioned by innovative practice in the present. And he poses this retroactive mod ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published September 25th 1996 by Mit Press
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Ivan Labayne
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
just like in the book: "we can make value judgments that, in Nitzschean terms, are not only reactive but active, or in non-Nietzschean terms, not only distinctive but useful.

this book is good, especially for those who wish to see the extreme possibilities lying between the two extreme points of art, if not points that are very sketchily drawn: art's sake and man's sake. this book is good because it reveals that the extreme possibilities lying between the two extremes are always more productive a
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I found this book fascinating and extremely readable. He admittedly presents his theory of the real following the trajectory with minimalism as its root, but does not exclude other or previous movements as sources. I highly reccommend this to anyone looking for a contemporary reading of theory.
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Goes through art from the 60's to the 90's with in-depth philosophical and critical histories surrounding the practices. Posits minimalism as the point of departure of many future art forms and goes through the critical texts which formulated the role of the theorist and artist.
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-thesis
Hal Foster! You make me think I understand Lacan! Sometimes. It's a feat in itself.
Oliver Terrones
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arte, ee-uu
Hay un capítulo de Hal Foster donde habla del 'artista como etnógrafo', me parece que es labor de la antropología y de la etnografía (en particular) responder a esa invasión de las artes con el etnógrafo como artista.
I read this about 15 years ago, so too long ago to write a proper review. Foster does raise some important points to ponder when considering contemporary art, so a good read for students of art and art history/criticism.
Toti P.
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
The artist as an etnographer is an important essay on contemporary art and the representations of the so called "other".
Jun 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
The chapter on Minimalism. Very good.
Feb 20, 2008 rated it liked it
I would have given this more stars because i think hal foster is a good writer. but i can't really tell what writing like this is trying to do nor why a subtle manifesto is disguising itself as 'Theory' with a capital t. its anyways interesting to see how foster lived a long life woke up to find the mythical avate garde at his doorstep.
Søren Lindbo
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Used this in my dissertation, very helpful perspectives and angles on f.ex. Benjamin
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Good ol Hal Foster.
May 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I don't know how many stars to give this book. I felt like a spectacular failure when attempting to read it. I guess it should get 5 stars for defeating me. Hal Foster = 5 Stars, Anna = 0 Stars.
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  • The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths
  • Relational Aesthetics
  • After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History
  • Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space
  • One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity
  • The Conspiracy of Art: Manifestos, Interviews, Essays
  • Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews
  • Installation Art
  • Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings
  • Art and Culture: Critical Essays
  • The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society
  • Visual Culture Reader
  • Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings
  • Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art
  • What Do Pictures Want?: The Lives and Loves of Images
  • Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life
  • Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and Histories of Art
  • Conceptual Art (Phaidon Art and Ideas)
Hal Foster is a Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University specializing in 20th century art.

Note: for the comic book artist, see Harold "Hal" Foster.

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