Stephen Foster

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Professor Emeritus

Academic Areas

Stephen Foster (1941-2018) is founder and director of Stephen Foster Fine Arts and SFC Arts Brokerage. His twenty-five years of professional experience in fine arts business, research and teaching, consulting and arts administration brings substance, depth and effectiveness to his activities as a private dealer and closes the distance between what are conventionally (but not historically) perceived as distinct domains. He is  committed to the idea that scholarship and historical criticism provide the best bases for securing informed and productive relationships among all parties engaged in artworld agendas and transactions.

The uniqueness of Foster's expertise rests in his prosecuting a variety of related art world roles which have been applied to a broad cross-section of related art world contexts. Foster's involvement in fine arts business dates to the early 1980 's and his position in FACS, a New York fine arts consulting firm. Since then, he has pursued an independent consulting practice, concentrating on the arts of the twentieth century, and serves as director of Stephen Foster Fine Arts and SFC Arts Brokerage.

As faculty involved in teaching and research at major art history programs since 1972, Foster taught a full spectrum of twentieth century graduate courses and advanced seminars, supervised numerous M.A. and Ph.D. students through courses of study spanning all aspects of the history of twentieth century art, and has produced a distinguished record of broadly cited publications.  He has served the field widely, for the National Endowment of the Humanities, The National Endowment of the Arts and the Getty Post-Doctoral Grant Program, in reviewing the scholarship of his peers and has administered and directed numerous fine arts and interdisciplinary cultural fine arts programs of international scope; most notably, the Program for Modern Studies, widely respected as one of the best and most successful programs of its kind, and The Dada Archive and Research Center, the largest American research center devoted to study in this field.

Foster's consulting activities have ranged from advising prominent private, public and corporate art collections to corporate and industry consulting.  Additionally, he has served as consultant and series editor for UMI Research Press' and Macmillan/G.K. Hall's fine arts publication programs.  Numbering over sixty volumes, the UMI series ( Studies in the Fine Arts: The Avant-Garde ) represented an exhaustive revisionist study of twentieth century art history employing the expertise of many of today's most widely respected scholars.  The ten volume G.K. Hall project ( Crisis and the Arts: A History of Dada ), described as the most comprehensive monograph on a movement ever undertaken, has set new standards for publication of its kind. 

In all the above cases, Foster has managed and coordinated large teams of experts, numbering in the dozens, into systematic, coherent research and publication programs whose impact has been substantial and enduring.  Understandably, the above activities have productively intersected in his curatorial activities.  With many exhibitions behind him, Foster is now engaged in curating, formulating and facilitating of a variety of international exhibition programs.

Among other ongoing publication projects, Foster expects to see the Franz Kline monograph and catalogue, originated through his organization of the European Kline exhibition, Franz Kline: Art and the Structure of Identity , to their completion.  (Fudacio Antoni Tapies, Barcelona; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Saarland Museum, Saarbrucken).  He will continue to commit time to a number of other writing and publishing project in the areas of post-WWII American art and the twentieth century arts in general.  Additionally, he will be curating, coordinating  and brokering exhibitions both in the United States and abroad. Foster received his Ph.D. in art history from The University of Pennsylvania and has been the recipient of honors and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Getty Grant Program, The Mellon Foundation, and the Smithsonian.