The Return of the Real by Hal Foster
The Avante-Garde at the End of the Century

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Synopsis

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 model of art and theory against the reactionary undoing of progressive culture that is pervasive today.

After the models of art-as-text in the 1970s and art-as-simulacrum in the 1980s; Foster suggests that we are now witness to a return to the real—to art and theory grounded in the materiality of actual bodies and social sites: If The Return of the Real begins with a new narrative of the historical avant-garde; it concludes with an original reading of this contemporary situation—and what it portends for future practices of art and theory, culture and politics.
 

About Hal Foster

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Hal Foster is Townsend Martin '17 Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. He is the author of "Compulsive Beauty" (1993), "The Return of the Real: Art and Theory at the End of the Century" (1996), and "Prosthetic Gods" (2004), all published by the MIT Press, and other books.
 
Published October 1, 1996 by The MIT Press. 376 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Return of the Real

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Dividing the century into two avant-gardes, the author passes on the one that runs from Picasso to Pollock and lays claim to another that begins with Duchamp and continues through Warhol into the pres

Oct 02 1996 | Read Full Review of The Return of the Real: The A...

Publishers Weekly

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Following the leads of Althusser and Lacan, he urges structuralist re-readings of radical texts (including art) for content that breaks with ""our decentered relations to the language of our unconscious"" and ""humanist problems of alienation."" A chapter on recent ""abject art"" (like Mike Kelle...

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or, if you like, of contradictory belief — fascinated Veyne, and it also fascinates the authors of All Things Shining, who want to save the religious attitude from the (in their view, ultimately irrelevant) question of whether or not God or the gods really exist.

Dec 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Return of the Real: The A...

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