In this groundbreaking lecture, Hal Foster seeks to define and highlight a different sort of avant-garde: one that is driven neither by the transgression of a given order (as with Surrealism) or the legislation of a new one (as with Russian Constructivism), but one that makes fewer grand claims and which instead seeks trace fractures that already exist within the given order, to pressure them further, to activate them somehow. He will argue that this avant-garde is one (perhaps the only one) that is still operative in the present. Neither avant nor rear, this garde assumes a position of immanent critique, and he argues that in doing so, it often adopts a posture of mimetic excess.

Held at the University of Sydney on 24 February 2015, as part of the Sydney Ideas program.



Hal Foster is the Townsend Martin Class of 1917 Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. He has published widely in the field of modern and contemporary art, architecture and theory, with a particular interest in the relationship between art and philosophy at times of political crisis. Select publications include Junkspace with Running Room (2013), co-authored with Rem Koolhaas, Prosthetic Gods (2004) and The Return of the Real (1996). Foster also writes regularly for October (which he co-edits), Artforum and The London Review of Books. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2010 recipient of the Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing, and the 2013 recipient of the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism.

In 2012, Foster published The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter and Ruscha. The book sheds new light on pop art, revealing how these seminal five artists radically shifted our ongoing relationship with images.