Writing in Times Higher Education, Stephan Walker, a Senior Lecture in the Architecture Department at the University of Sheffield, praises Hal Foster's The Art-Architecture Complex for addressing itself to a 'wide audience', but criticises its tendency to perpetuate a 'highly institutional and geographically delimited discourse, with New York the implicit centre,' and failing to include detailed discussion of artists currently working collaboratively.
Describing Foster's overall project, Walker writes that, 'The shifts in artistic and architectural practice he traces serve as a broad barometer of cultural change.' While the mid 20th Century remained dominated by the legacy of High Modernism, which, as Walker puts it, 'actively policed the separation between sculpture, painting and architecture,' more recent years have seen a flowering of 'inter-relationships and possible collaborations between artists and architects.' Foster draws attention to the fact that, 'the cultural conditions and questions that such inter-relationships raise are currently undergoing significant change.' Foster's primary concern, he notes,
is with the image, with surface, superficiality and spectacle, and throughout the book he makes use of Pop and Minimalism (as artistic, architectural and critical movements) to frame his discussions. Pop's concern with the image can provide a contrast with Minimalism's direct physical engagement with material or space, although Foster is at pains to contest this easy opposition, arguing that they cross over into and inform each other. His lament is that while they fuelled and checked each other in the years following their emergence during the 1960s, this balance has recently been lost as the image has become dominant.
Hal Foster's new book comes off as a litlle bit menacing, according to Jason Farrago, reviewing The Art-Architecture Complex for the Barnes and Noble Review. With the allusion to Roosevelt's well-known phrase leading the charge, Foster menaces and critiques his way to a convincing argument that "'image-making and space-shaping' have become part of one continuous field ... and that might not be such a good thing."
The Art-Architecture Complex by Hal Foster has been reviewed in the Art Review, Icon and Financial Times.
In a thoughtful review for Art Review, Martin Herbert was impressed by the scope of Foster's aims in the book:
The American writer now evidently has a worldview expansive enough to see dominant tendencies in contemporary architecture and (fairly) recent art as flipside of the same coin, and both as reflective of the contemporary political order. This, then, is criticism with vaulting ambitions.
Critically engaging with Foster's argument, Herbert pin-pointed what he considered a weakness in an otherwise strong critique: "Foster's problem, one he never quite resolve, is of temporal disjunction: he wants the approaches of Serra et al, which are initiated in the 1960s and early 70s, to critique and counterbalance contemporary starchitecture." While conceding that this "pretty much works", he felt that "it leads to certain amount of special pleading". All in all, Herbert concluded positively, finishing with "The Art-Architecture Complex posits a paradigm; one completes it as a believer."