Jo Applin - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Jo Applin

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Dr Jo Applin

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Jo Applin is a specialist in modern and contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on American art since 1960. She studied at Essex University and UCL, where she was subsequently Henry Moore Postdoctoral Fellow. She joined The Courtauld in 2016, after eleven years teaching at the University of York. In 2008 Jo was Associate Scholar at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, and in 2012 the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize. In 2016 she was Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, and Senior Scholar at the Terra Foundation Summer Residency in Giverny.

Jo’s research addresses questions of materiality, abstraction, eccentricity, feminism, sexuality, and subjectivity. She is the author of Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America (Yale University Press, 2012) and Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Room-Phalli’s Field (Afterall and MIT Press, 2012), and is currently completing two further books, Not Working: Lee Lozano versus the Art World 1961-1971 (Yale University Press), which was awarded the Suzanne and James Mellor Book Prize from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. in 2015, and London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks 1960-1980 (Penn State University Press), which she is co-editing with Catherine Spencer and Amy Tobin. She is also embarking upon a new book about ageing and abstraction in American art since 1940, and co-editing a special issue of Oxford Art Journal on feminism and domesticity, to be published in 2017.

Jo is reviews editor of Oxford Art Journal, and sits on the boards of ARTMargins, Tate Papers, and the Terra-Tate Research Project Refiguring American Art 1945-1980. Jo has also published widely on contemporary art and is an active critic, writing regularly for Artforum and other publications. She has also reviewed books and exhibitions for TLS, Oxford Art Journal, Map, Journal of American Studies, West 86th, Modernism/Modernity, The Art Book, and Sculpture Journal.

Flesh, a major loan exhibition Jo has co-curated, will open at York Art Gallery in September 2016.

Teaching 2016-17

  • BA2 Constellations: Object, Subject, World: American Art 1945-75
  • BA2 Frameworks
  • BA3 Special Option: Art and Subjecthood: Sculpture in America 1960-70

PhD Supervision


  • Kostas Stasinopoulos, ‘Women Artists in Exile and Protest since 1960’
  • Amy Tobin, ‘Working Together, Working Apart: Feminism, Art and Collaboration in Britain and North America 1970–1981’

Recently completed

  •  Kuang Vivian Sheng, ‘The Female Fantasy of Home-Making: Women Artists in the World’ (2016)
  • Catherine Spencer, ‘The lesson of anthropology: Ethnographic strategies in British and American art, 1950-70’ (2013)

Selected publications


  • Flesh, ed. Jo Applin (York: York Art Gallery, 2016)
  • Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012)
  • Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Room-Phalli’s Field (London and Cambridge, Mass: Afterall and MIT Press, 2012)

Edited Special Issues

  • ‘On Drawing’, eds. Jo Applin, Jennifer Mundy, and Michael White, Tate Papers, 14 (Autumn 2010)
  • ‘Assemblage, Bricolage and the Obsolete’, eds. Jo Applin, Anna Dezeuze, and Julia Kelly, Art Journal, 67:1 (Spring 2008)


  • ‘Hard Work: Lee Lozano’s Dropouts’, October, 156 (Spring 2016), 75-99.
  • ‘Disorienting the Art World: Mona Hatoum in Istanbul’, British Art Studies, 3 (2016).
  • ‘Mobile Subjects: Abstraction, the Body and Science in the Work of Liliane Lijn and Bridget Riley’, Konsthistorisk Tidskrift/Journal of Art History, 83:2 (May 2014), 98-111.
  • ‘Strange Encounters: Claes Oldenburg’s Proposed Monuments for New York and London’, Art History, 34:4, (September 2011), 838-857.
  • ‘Surviving Reality: Lee Bontecou’s Worldscapes’, Tate Papers, 14 (Autumn 2010).
  • ‘Death Ships’, parallax, 15:1 (January-March 2009), 102-115.
  • ‘There’s a Sculpture on My Shoulder: Bruce McLean and the Anxiety of Influence’, Sculpture Journal, 17:2 (Winter 2008), 102-115.
  • ‘Bric-a-Brac: The Everyday Work of Tom Friedman’, Art Journal, 67:1 (Spring 2008), 69-81.
  • ‘Alberto Burri and Niki de Saint-Phalle: Relief Sculpture and Violence in the Sixties’, Source: Notes in the History of Art, 27:2 (Winter 2008), 77-81.
  • ‘This threatening, and possibly functioning object: Lee Bontecou and the Sculptural Void’, Art History, 29:3 (June 2006), 476-502.
  • ‘Small-Scale Boxes: Lucas Samaras and Eva Hesse’, Object, 4 (2002), 5-24.

Chapters in Books

  • ‘Over the Brink’ in Ida Applebroog’s Mercy Hospital Drawings (New York: Hauser and Wirth, 2016)
  • ‘Figuring Flesh’ in Flesh, ed. Jo Applin (York: York Art Gallery, 2016)
  • ‘Forgetting Vandenberg’ in Philippe Vandenberg, ed. Mary Doyle (Brussels: MER, 2016)
  • ‘Decadent Islander: Richard Smith’ in This was Tomorrow: The Invention of Pop Art in Great Britain, ed. Uta Ruhkamp (Wolfsburg: Kunstmuseum, 2016).
  • ‘Kusama’s Object World’ in Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective (Humlebaek, Denmark: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015), 44-77.
  • ‘Last Things: Jackson Pollock’s Sculpture’ in Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, ed. Gavin Delahunty (Dallas and London: Dallas Museum of Art and Tate, 2015), 89-101.
  • ‘Homesick’ in Adeline de Monseignat (London: Ronchini Gallery, 2014), 11-17.
  • ‘Optical Noise: The Sound of Sculpture in the 1960s’ in Art or Sound, eds. Chiara Costa and Germano Celant (Venice: Fondazione Prada, 2014), 207-214.
  • ‘Rendez-vous’ in Jan De Cock: Everything for You (Brussels: Atelier Jan De Cock, 2014), 1-7.
  • ‘C-Clamp Blues: Eva Hesse’s Relief Work’ in Eva Hesse 1965, ed. Barry Rosen (London: Yale University Press, 2013), 40-49.
  • ‘When Attitudes Became Formless: Art and Antagonism in the Sixties’ in A Companion to British Art, eds. Dana Arnold and David Peters Corbett (Oxford: Blackwell, 2013), 180-198.
  • ‘Strange Encounters: Claes Oldenburg’s Proposed Monuments for New York and London’ in Anglo-American: Artistic Exchange between Britain and the USA, eds. David Peters Corbett and Sarah Monks (Oxford: Blackwell, 2012), 76-89. Reprinted version of article in Art History, 2011.
  • ‘I’m Here but Nothing: Yayoi Kusama’s Environments’ in Yayoi Kusama, ed. Frances Morris (London: Tate Publishing, 2012), 176-186.
  • ‘There’s a Sculpture on My Shoulder: Bruce McLean and the Anxiety of Influence’ in Anglo-American Exchange in Post-War Sculpture, ed. Rebecca Peabody (Los Angeles: Getty Publishing, 2011), 76-89. Reprinted version of article in Sculpture Journal, 2008.
  • ‘Productive Fictions: Eva Löfdahl’ in Eva Löfdahl, Ann-Sofi Noring ed. (Stockholm: Moderna Museet, 2011), 255-263.
  • ‘Looking Back: Prints in the Lurie Collection’ in The Lurie Collection: British Modern Art at the Yale Center for British Art, eds. Angus Trumble and Eleanor Hughes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 54-60.
  • ‘Lozano’s Labor’ in Lee Lozano, ed. Iris Müller-Westermann (Stockholm: Moderna Museet/Hatje Cantz, 2010), 116-127.
  • ‘Resisting Infinity’ in Yayoi Kusama (London: Victoria Miro Gallery, 2008)
  • ‘Towards a Haunted Art History?’ in Technologies of Intuition, ed. Jennifer Fisher (Toronto: YYZ Books, 2006), 247-260.
  • ‘The Silent Stuff of Sculpture’ in Neat Stuff: Leo Fitzmaurice (Colchester: Firstsite and the Arts Council, 2005), n.p.

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