Jo Applin - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Jo Applin

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Dr Jo Applin

Reader in the History of Art, Head of History of Art Department

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 Lee Lozano: Not Working (Yale University Press, 2018), 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). Her most recent book, Lee Lozano: Not Working, was awarded the Suzanne and James Mellor Book Prize from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.  Also published in 2018 are London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks 1960-1980 (Penn State University Press, 2018), edited with Catherine Spencer and Amy Tobin, and Alison Wilding (Lund Humphries, 2018), with Briony Fer. She is currently thinking about ageing and abstraction in art since 1940.

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. Her articles have appeared in journals including Art HistoryOctober, Oxford Art Journal, Art Journal, and American Art, among other places, and she has reviewed books and exhibitions for TLS, Oxford Art Journal, Map, Journal of American Studies, West 86th, Modernism/Modernity, The Art Book, and Sculpture Journal. In 2016 Jo co-curated the major loan exhibition Flesh at York Art Gallery. 

Teaching 2018-19

  • MA The Sixties: Eccentric, Erotic, Psychotic
  • BA1 Foundations Lectures: Sexuality and Subjectivity in Modern and Contemporary Art

PhD Supervision


  • Tilly Scantlebury, ‘Rethinking the Maternal Subject in Visual Art from 1968-2015′

Recently Completed

  • 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’.
  • Kuang Vivian Sheng, ‘The Female Fantasy of Home-Making: Women Artists in the World’. 
  • Catherine Spencer, ‘Fieldwork: Performing Social Science in North America, 1961-1975’. 



Selected publications


  • Lee Lozano: Not Working (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2018)
  • London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent, and Ephemeral Networks 1960-1980, eds. Jo Applin, Catherine Spencer and Amy Tobin (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2018).
  • Alison Wilding, with an essay by Briony Fer (London: Lund Humphries, 2018)
  • 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

  • ‘Feminist Domesticities’, eds. Jo Applin and Francesca Berry, Oxford Art Journal, 40: 1 (Spring 2017)
  • ‘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)


  • ‘Generational Objects: Ida Applebroog’s History of Feminism’, Oxford Art Journal, 40:1 (Spring 2017), 133-151.
  • ‘Feminist Domesticities’ (with Francesca Berry), Oxford Art Journal, 40:1 (Spring 2017), 1-5.
  • ‘Cut Out, Drop Out’, American Art, 31:1 (Spring 2017), 6-11.
  • ‘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

  • ‘Conceptual Devices: Anj Smith’s Painted Worlds’ in Anj Smith, ed. Sarianne Soikkonen (Tampere, Finland: Sara Hildén Museum, 2018), 12-21.
  • ‘Where Angels Fear to Tread: Phyllida Barlow’s quarry’ in Phyllida Barlow: quarry, ed. Nicky Wilson (Edinburgh: Jupiter Artland, 2018), 12-22.
  • ‘Introduction: London Art Worlds’, with Catherine Spencer and Amy Tobin, in London Art Worlds: Mobile, Kinetic, and Ephemeral Networks 1960-1980, eds. Jo Applin, Catherine Spencer and Amy Tobin (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2018), 1-21.
  • ‘Same Old: Ryman’s Repetitions’ in Robert Ryman, eds. Stephen Hoban and Courtney J. Martin (New Haven and London: Yale University Press and Dia Art Foundation, 2017), 311-321.
  • ‘Las deserciones de Lee Lozano’ in Lee Lozano: Forza la Máquina (Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, 2017), 60-87.
  • ‘Over the Brink’ in Ida Applebroog: Mercy Hospital (New York: Karma Books, 2017), 71-89.
  • ‘Reframing the Feminine: Barbara Hepworth, Judy Chicago, Barbro Östlihn and Ilona Keserü’ (London: Stephen Friedman Gallery, 2017).
  • ‘Yayoi Kusama: Without Beginning, Middle, or End’ in Traumata, ed. Emma Baker (London: Sothebys S/2, 2017), 66-80.
  • ‘Talking To The Work of Philippe Vandenberg: A Seminar’ in Phillipe Vandenberg: Absence, etc, with Anna Dezeuze, Maarten Liefooghe, Raphäel Pirenne, Merel van Tilburg, and John C. Welchmann (New York: Hauser and Wirth, 2017), 89-145.
  • ‘Figuring Flesh’ in Flesh, ed. Jo Applin (York: York Art Gallery, 2016), 16-29.
  • ‘Forgetting Vandenberg’ in Philippe Vandenberg, ed. Mary Doyle (Brussels: MER, 2016), 121-131.
  • ‘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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