Stephen Foster’s fine arts experience, as an educator, curator and consultant, spans over thirty years and is backgrounded by a highly respected career as an art historian, curator, and researcher. He has a distinguished record of widely cited scholarly publications in the arts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Foster has been responsible for curating major exhibitions in the Americas, Europe and Asia and has undertaken curating for clients as part of his work with collections; private, public and institutional.
Among many other exhibitions, Foster was responsible for curating the European Franz Kline Retrospective (Franz Kline: Art and the Structure of Identity) dating from 1994-1995. The exhibition was composed of over 70 works and was accompanied by a book-length catalogue bearing the same title (213 pages with 21 black and white illustrations and 71 full color plates. Bibliography and Chronology). The exhibition was hosted by the Fundacio Antoni Tapies and traveled to the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Saarland Museum (Saarbrucken).
Foster’s work on Kline has continued over the years and has led to his current preparation of the Franz Kline Cataloguing Initiative.
Additionally, Foster curated an ambitious survey of post-War art inclusive of all major movements spanning the years 1945 to 1980.
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An American Odyssey, 1945/1980: Debating Modernism. An exhibition of one hundred thirty works accompanied by a book length (410 pp.) catalogue with all exhibited works reproduced full page, in color. Circulo de Bellas Artes,Madrid, April 13-May 30, 2004; Domus Artium 2002 (Salamanca), June 10-July 31, 2004; Kiosco Alfonso (A Coruna), September 2-October 2, 2004; QCC Art Gallery (Queens, New York), October 24-January 15, 2005.
Other major exhibitions Foster has curated include:
The World According to Dada, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, June 11- August 7, 1988. Composed of 325 works, the exhibition was not permitted to travel.
The Avant-Garde and the Text, co-curated with Estera Milman and Roy F. Allen, an exhibition of 130 works; Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, New York, September 9-October 14, 1988 and subsequent travel to six further museums.
Lettrisme: Into the Present, an exhibition composed of 100 works, University of Iowa Museum of Art, October 28-December 11, 1983, The Mandeville Art Gallery (San Diego), March 9-April 15, 1984.
Dada Artifacts, an exhibition of 150 periodicals, books, objects, graphics, posters and other Dada documents, University of Iowa Museum of Art, March 30-May 7, 1978.
Foster’s consulting and editing activities have ranged from advising prominent private, public and corporate art collections to corporate publication consulting. He has served as consultant and series editor for major American presses, and has managed and coordinated large teams of experts, numbering in the dozens, into systematic, coherent research and publication programs.
To cite but two examples, Foster served as 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) constituted an exhaustive revisionist study of twentieth century art history employing the expertise of many of today's most widely respected scholars. In addition, Foster served as Contributing General Editor to 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; a project that set new standards for publication of its kind.
Further publications unrelated to exhibitions include the following:
Hans Richter: Activism, Modernism, and the Avant-Garde, contributing editor (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1998).
Dada Cologne Hannover, contributing editor, with Charlotte Stokes (New York: G.K Hall & Co., 1997). Third volume of a ten volume series of Dada histories.
Dada: The Coordinates of Cultural Politics, contributing editor (New York: G.K. Hall & Co., 1996). First volume of a ten volume series of Dada histories.
"Event" Art and Art Events, contributing editor (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1988).
Dada/Dimensions, contributing editor (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1985).
The Critics of Abstract Expressionism (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1980, 1985).
Dada Spectrum, co-contributing editor with Rudolf Kuenzli (Madison: Coda Press, 1979).
Intermedia, co-editor with Hans Breder (Iowa City: University of Iowa, 1979).
Foster has served the field widely in reviewing the scholarship of his peers for The National Endowment of the Humanities, The National Endowment of the Arts and the Getty Post-Doctoral Grant Program. Additionally, he has administered and directed numerous fine arts and interdisciplinary programs of international scope; most notably, the University of Iowa’s Program for Modern Studies (with Estera Milman), widely respected as one of the best and most successful programs of its kind, the Corroborate (Intermedia Program), and The Dada Archive and Research Center, the largest American research center devoted to study in this field.
As faculty involved in teaching and research at major art history programs from 1972 through 2001, Foster taught a full spectrum of twentieth century graduate courses and advanced seminars, and supervised numerous M.A. and Ph.D. students through courses of study spanning all aspects of the history of twentieth century art. He also served as faculty for the American Painting Summer Institute sponsored by Bowdoin College.
Stephen 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.