Professor Jo Applin

Walter H. Annenberg Professor in the History of Art

Jo Applin is a specialist in modern and contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on American and British art since 1945. She studied at the University of Essex and at UCL, where she was subsequently Henry Moore Postdoctoral Fellow. She joined The Courtauld in 2016, after eleven years teaching at the University of York. From 2018 to 2021 she was Head of the History of Art Department at The Courtauld. Jo is currently an Elected Member of the Courtauld’s Governing Board and Director of the Centre for American Art.

In 2008 Jo was Associate Scholar at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, and in 2012 she was 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. In spring 2022 she was invited professor at Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Jo’s research addresses questions of abstraction, feminism, sexuality, and subjectivity. She is the author of Lee Lozano: Not Working (Yale University Press, 2018), Alison Wilding (Lund Humphries, 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. She is currently working on a book about art and ageing.

Jo’s edited books include London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks 1960-1980 (Penn State University Press, 2018), with Catherine Spencer and Amy Tobin, and Flesh (York Museums Trust, 2016). She has also co-edited special issues of Oxford Art Journal, Tate Papers, and Art Journal.

In 2016 Jo co-curated Flesh, a major loan exhibition of over eighty works at York Art Gallery. Artists included Francis Bacon, Lynda Benglis, Belinda de Bruyckere, Chardin, Sarah Lucas, Steve McQueen, Bruce Nauman, Rodin, Donald Rodney, Rubens, and Jenny Saville.

Jo has also published widely on contemporary art and is an active critic. She has written reviews for scholarly journals including Oxford Art Journal, The Art Book, Journal of American Studies, Map, Sculpture Journal, West 86th, and Modernism/Modernity. She has also written for Artforum, ArtReview, Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books.

Jo is an editor of Oxford Art Journal, where from 2014 to 2020 she was reviews editor. She also sits on the editorial boards of Archives of American Art Journal and Tate Papers. She previously served on the Advisory Board of the Terra-Tate Research Project ‘Refiguring American Art 1945-1980’ and ARTMargins. Jo is a Trustee of the Eva Hesse Charitable Foundation and is a member of the Advisory Council of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

PhD Supervision


  • Tatjana Schaefer, ‘Painting’s Agency / Painting’s Defiance Traces of Plural Feminisms in the Works of New York Painters from the Heresies Collective’
  • Stephen Feeke, ‘Midlife Materiality: Barbara Hepworth and Bronze’

Recently Completed

  • Francesca Wilmott, ‘Far Out California: A New Regionalism 1966-1976’
  • Tilly Scantlebury, ‘Being Together With Others: Queer American Art  and the Family 1990-2020‘
  • 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). Winner of the Suzanne and James Mellor Book Prize, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC
  • 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

  • A Life’s Work’ in Lifework: On the Autobiographical Impulse in Contemporary Art, Writing, and Theory, ed. Moran Sheleg (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2024)
  • ‘Joan Semmel, Secret Spaces’, Capturing the Moment (London: Tate Publishing, 2024)
  • ‘Outrageous Abstraction: Senga Nengudi’ and ‘At the Place Vendôme: Dorothea Tanning’ in Louise Bourgeois: Imaginary Conversations, ed. Briony Fer (Oslo: National Museum of Art, 2023), 173-187.
  • ‘A Conversation on Carol Rama’, Jo Applin, Mark Godfrey, and Cristina Mundici in Carol Rama (Paris: LGDV, 2022), 14-35.
  • ‘Weaving, unweaving: Sheila Hicks’s Misbehaving Materials’ in Sheila Hicks, ed. Andrew Bonacina (Wakefield: The Hepworth Wakefield, 2022)
  • ‘Carolee Schneemann’s Constructed Environments’ in Carolee Schneemann: A Retrospective (London: Barbican Art Gallery, 2022), 48-53.
  • ‘Cornelia Parker’s Abstractions’ in Cornelia Parker, ed. Andrea Schlieker (London: Tate Publishing, 2022), 74-75.
  • ‘Eccentric Abstraction’, ‘Eva Hesse’, and ‘Louise Bourgeois’, entries for Elles font l’abstraction (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 2021), 236-240.
  • ‘If I measure it must exist’ in Frances Richardson: If I measure it must exist (London: Karsten Schubert, 2021), 2-8.
  • ‘Beatriz Milhazes: Dentro e for a da escultura’ [Beatriz Milhazes: In and Out of Sculpture] in Beatriz Milhazes: Avenida Paulista, ed. Adriano Pedrosa, Amanda Carneiro, and Ivo Mesquita (Sao Paulo: Museo de Arte de São Paolo, 2021), 95-107.
  • ‘Note to Self: On the Blurring of Art and Life’ in The Present Prospects of Social Art History, ed. Anthony Grudin and Robert Slifkin (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2021), 143-159.
  • ‘Hannah Wilke’s Agreeable Objects’ in Eva Hesse and Hannah Wilke, ed. Eleanor Nairne (New York: Rizzoli, 2020), 78-93.
  • Invited statement in Breaking the Mould (Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2020)
  • ‘H.C. Westermann’s Complex Present’ in H.C. Westermann: Goin’ Home, ed. Beatriz Velázquez (Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, 2019), 51-76.
  • ‘Rosemarie Trockel: The Vita Activa’ in Rosemarie Trockel: The Same Different, ed. Iris Müller-Westermann (Mälmo: Moderna Museet, 2019), 99-105.
  • ‘Bird on a Wire’ in Ida Applebroog’s Angry Birds of America (Thun: Kunstmuseum Thun, 2019), 11-33.
  • ‘Alice Adams: Woven Forms, Eccentric Objects’ in Alice Adams: Woven Forms and Post Minimal Sculpture 1959-1973 (Boston: David Hall Fine Art, 2018), 1-4.
  • ‘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.
  • ‘Cut off Your Nose’ in Rachel Maclean: Spite Your Face (London: Zabludowicz Collection, 2018), 16-21.
  • ‘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), 1-8.
  • ‘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), 351-358.
  • ‘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), n.p.
  • ‘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.