Jo Applin
Senior Lecturer



BA (London), MA (Essex), PhD (London)

Jo is a senior lecturer in modern and contemporary art, currently on leave as the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize. She is the author of two books, 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).

Eccentric Objects offers an account of the development of sculpture in America during the 1960s, a time when the object in art underwent a series of radical transformations.  It argues that work made at this time challenged established categories and criteria for thinking about sculpture, paying particular attention to writing by contemporary critics and artists including Donald Judd, Lucy Lippard, and Mel Bochner and the work of artists including Lee Bontecou, Claes Oldenburg, Lucas Samaras, H.C. Westermann, and Bruce Nauman.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field examines Kusama’s room-sized sculptural installation that she made in New York City in 1965. The book discusses Kusama's relationship to her contemporaries, particularly those working with environments, abstract-erotic sculpture, and mirrors, and focuses on issues such as abstraction, eroticism, sexuality, and softness.

Jo has also published articles on artists including Claes Oldenburg, Lee Bontecou, Yayoi Kusama, Lee Lozano, Eva Lofdahl, HC Westermann, Liliane Lijn, Jan De Cock, Bridget Riley, and Bruce McLean in journals such as Art History, Art Journal, Tate Papers, Sculpture Journal, Source, and Parallax, and her essays have appeared in exhibition catalogues published by Tate Modern, Moderna Museet, Victoria Miro Gallery, Firstsite, Fondazione Prada, and the Yale Center for British Art.

Her reviews and criticism have appeared in Artforum, Oxford Art Journal, Modernism/Modernity, Sculpture Journal, Map and the Times Literary Supplement. She is a member of the editorial boards of ARTMargins and Oxford Art Journal. She also sits on the Academic Advisory Board for the Terra Foundation/Tate Research Project Refiguring American Art 1945-1980.

Jo is currently completing a new book titled Not Working: Lee Lozano versus the Art World. She is also co-curating Flesh, a major loan exhibition at York City Art Gallery, which is scheduled to open in September 2016 and co-editing a book titled London Art Worlds: Mobile, Kinetic and Ephemeral Networks, 1960-1980

Departmental roles

  • Senior Management Team (2011-2013)
  • Academic Secretary (2011-2013)
  • Chair of the Teaching Committee (2011-2013)
  • Chair of the Board of Studies (2011-2013)
  • Undergraduate Admissions Officer (2005-2010)




Jo came to York from UCL, where she was Henry Moore Post-Doctoral Fellow (2004-2005). She has been a Visiting Scholar in the School of Visual Arts at the University of North Texas (2007) and a Research Associate at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal (2009). Jo is the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize (2013-2015).

Current projects

Jo is currently working on a new book focusing on the work of Lee Lozano, titled Not Working: Lee Lozano versus the Art World 1961-1971. An essay on Lozano’s tool drawings was published in 2010 in the catalogue accompanying the major Lozano retrospective at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. In 2010 Jo was awarded a year long Anniversary Lectureship from the University of York to develop this project.

Research group(s)


In Progress

Louisa Lee, 'Conceptual Art in Britain, 1965-1979.' Co-supervised by Dr. Andrew Wilson, Tate Britain.

Helen Shaw, 'Modern Alchemists: Sculptural Objects, Ceramics and their makers (1959 - 1979).'

Kuang (Vivian) Sheng, ‘Female artists’ fantasy of ‘home-making’ in the world: Mona Hatoum, Yin Xiuzhen and Nikki S. Lee.’

Kostas Stasinopoulos, ‘Turning Tables: Interrogating Silence and Violence in War-Related Artistic Practice since 1980.’

Amy Tobin, ‘Working Together, Working Apart: Feminism, Art and Collaboration in Britain and America (1974-1981).’ 


Catherine Spencer, ‘Fieldwork: performing social science in North America, 1959-71.’


Selected publications


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)

Yayoi Kusama (London: Victoria Miro Gallery, 2008; reprinted 2012; two volumes, author of volume one ‘Resisting Infinity’)


Edited Collections

‘On Drawing’, Jo Applin, Jennifer Mundy and Michael White (eds) Tate Papers, 14 (Autumn 2010) 

‘Assemblage, Bricolage and the Obsolete’, Jo Applin, Anna Dezeuze and Julia Kelly (eds) Art Journal, 67:1 (Spring 2008)



'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), pp.98-111.

‘Strange Encounters: Claes Oldenburg’s Proposed Monuments for New York and London’, Art History, 34:4, (September 2011), pp. 838-857.

‘Surviving Reality: Lee Bontecou’s Worldscapes’, Tate Papers, 14 (Autumn 2010).

‘Death Ships’, parallax, 15:1 (January-March 2009), pp. 102-115.

‘There's a Sculpture on My Shoulder: Bruce McLean and the Anxiety of Influence’, Sculpture Journal, 17:2 (Winter 2008), pp. 102-115.

‘Bric-a-Brac: The Everyday Work of Tom Friedman’, Art Journal, 67:1 (Spring 2008), pp. 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), pp. 77-81.

‘This threatening, and possibly functioning object: Lee Bontecou and the Sculptural Void’, Art History, 29:3 (June 2006), pp. 476-502.

‘Small-Scale Boxes: Lucas Samaras and Eva Hesse’, Object, 4 (2002), pp. 5-24.



Chapters in Books

‘Kusama’s Object World’ in Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective (Humlebaek, Denmark: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, forthcoming September 2015)   

‘Last Things: Jackson Pollock’s Sculpture’ in Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots (Dallas and New Haven: Dallas Museum of Art and Yale University Press, forthcoming June 2015) 

‘Homesick’ in Adeline de Monseignat (London: Ronchini Gallery, 2014), pp.11-17.

'Optical Noise: The Sound of Sculpture in the 1960s' in Chiara Costa and Germano Celant (eds), Art or Sound (Venice: Fondazione Prada, 2014) pp. 207-214.

'Rendez-vous' in Jan De Cock: Everything for You (Brussels: Atelier Jan De Cock, 2014), pp. 1-7.

'C-Clamp Blues: Eva Hesse’s Relief Work’, in Barry Rosen ed., Eva Hesse 1965 (London: Yale University Press, 2013), pp. 40-49.

 ‘When Attitudes Became Formless: Art and Antagonism in the Sixties’ in Dana Arnold and David Peters Corbett (eds), A Companion to British Art (Oxford: Blackwell, 2013), pp. 180-198.

 ‘Strange Encounters: Claes Oldenburg’s Proposed Monuments for New York and London’ in David Peters Corbett and Sarah Monks (eds), Anglo-American: Artistic Exchange between Britain and the USA (Oxford: Blackwell, 2012), pp. 76-89. Reprinted version of article in Art History, 2011.

 ‘I’m Here but Nothing: Yayoi Kusama’s Environments’, in Frances Morris (ed), Yayoi Kusama (London: Tate Publishing, 2012), pp. 176-186.

'There's a Sculpture on My Shoulder: Bruce McLean and the Anxiety of Influence’, in Rebecca Peabody (ed), Anglo-American Exchange in Post-War Sculpture (Los Angeles: Getty Publishing, 2011), pp. 76-89. Reprinted version of article in Sculpture Journal, 2008.  Shortlisted for the ARIAH Online Essay Prize, 2012.

‘Productive Fictions: Eva Löfdahl’ in Ann-Sofi Noring (ed), Eva Löfdahl (Stockholm: Moderna Museet, 2011), pp. 255-263.

‘Looking Back: Prints in the Lurie Collection’ in Angus Trumble and Eleanor Hughes (eds), The Lurie Collection: British Modern Art at the Yale Center for British Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), pp.54-60.

 ‘Lozano's Labor’ in Iris Müller-Westermann (ed), Lee Lozano (Stockholm: Moderna Museet/Hatje Cantz, 2010), pp. 116-127.

 ‘Towards a Haunted Art History?’ in Jennifer Fisher (ed), Technologies of Intuition (Toronto: YYZ Books, 2006), pp. 247-260.

 ‘The Silent Stuff of Sculpture’ in Neat Stuff: Leo Fitzmaurice (Colchester: Firstsite and the Arts Council, 2005), np.


Reviews and Shorter Pieces 

‘Twombly’s Things’, Times Literary Supplement, 10 April 2015, 5.

‘Art & Language’, Artforum (February 2015)

‘Mary Reid Kelley’, Artforum (December 2014)

'Judith Bernstein', Artforum (November 2014)

‘The Luminous and the Grey’, West 86th, 21:2 (Fall 2014), pp. 290-292

'Lynn Chadwick', Times Literary Supplement, 5 September, 2014, 26.

‘Marina Abramovic: 512 Hours, Serpentine Gallery, London’, Times Literary Supplement, 18 July 2014, pp. 17-18.

'Al Taylor', Artforum (May 2014)

'Dennis Oppenheim', Artforum (March 2014)

'Found Sculpture and Photography', Modernism/Modernity, 21:1 (Spring 2014)

'Sarah Lucas', Artforum (February 2014)

'Liz Deschenes', Artforum (January 2014)

'Pauline Boty', Artforum (December 2013)

'Geraldo de Barros', Artforum (March 2013)

‘The Artist’s Placement Group’, Artforum (January 2013)

‘Keith Coventry’, Artforum (January 2013)

‘Lindsay Seers: Nowhere Less Now’, Artforum (December 2012)

‘The Bruce Lacey Experience’, Critic’s Pick, (August 2012)

'Hanne Darboven', Artforum (June 2012)

‘The Disappearance of Objects’, Sculpture Journal (2011)

‘Since 1950: Art and its Criticism’, Modernism / Modernity, 17:3 (September 2010)

‘Discrepancies: Expo ‘67’, Scholar’s Choice, Canadian Centre for Architecture (2010)

‘Katy Moran: Paintings’, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Map, 17 (Spring 2009)

‘Tom Friedman: Monsters and Stuff’, The Art Book, 16: 2 (May 2009)

‘The Blind Spot: An Essay on the Relations between Painting and Sculpture in the Modern Age’, The Art Book, 16: 2 (May 2009)

‘Gallery in Focus: mima’, The Art Book, 16:2 (August 2009)

‘You are the measure: Gordon Matta Clark’ The Art Book, 15: 3 (August 2008)

‘Modern Sculpture Reader’, The Art Book, 15: 1 (February 2008)

‘Eva Hesse: Sculpture’ and ‘Eva Hesse: Drawing’, The Art Book, 14: 4 (November 2007)

‘Carl Andre, Cuts: Texts 1959-2004’, The Art Book, 13: 2 (May 2006)

‘All at Sea’, Oxford Art Journal, 29:3 (October 2006)

‘Dan Flavin: A Retrospective’, The Art Book, 12: 3 (August 2005).

‘A Minimal Future? Art as Object 1958-1965’, The Art Book, 12: 2 (May 2005)

‘With Hidden Noise: Sculpture, Video, Ventriloquism’, The Art Book, 12:1 (February 2005)

‘Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties’, Object, 5 (2002)


      Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America (Yale University Press, 2012)       By Jo Applin

                                By Jo Applin




  • The Modernist Object
  • Sculpture in the Twentieth Century
  • Sexuality and Subjectivity in Art Since 1960
  • Modernism
  • Contemporary art: practice and debate



  • Installation/Participation
  • Encountering Modernism



 Jo on a field trip with her final year undergraduates

Jo with Helen and Vivian

Jo with her PhD students Kuang Sheng and Helen Shaw

External activities

Invited talks and conferences

Invited Talks

Jo has presented invited lectures at INHA, Paris (2015), University of Kent (2015), The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2014), Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University (2014), University of Essex (2014, 2002), UCL (2014, 2011), Institute for Contemporary Art, London (2013), Edinburgh University (2012), Tate Liverpool (2012), Central Saint Martins, London (2012), Nottingham Contemporary (2012), Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2012, 2009), Princeton University (2010), Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (2010), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2010), University of Sussex (2010), The Getty Center, Los Angeles (2008), McGill University (2008), University of California, Berkeley (2007), Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2007), University of North Texas (2007), University of Nottingham (2006), The Courtauld Institute of Art, London (2007), Slade School of Fine Art, London (2003).

She also regularly presents papers and convenes panels at international conferences including the annual meetings of the Association of Art Historians (AAH) and the College Art Association (CAA).

Conferences Organised

  • 2013  ‘The London Art World: Mobile, Kinetic, and Ephemeral Networks 1960-1980’, University of York (co-organiser)
  • 2013  ‘Feminist Object(ives): Writing Art History’, Centre for Modern Studies, University of York (co-organiser, with Edinburgh  University History of Art Department)
  • 2011  ‘Writing the Sixties’, University of York (organiser)
  • 2011  ‘The Grandaughters’ Generation: Feminism and Art History Now’, University College London (organising committee)
  • 2009  ‘On Drawing’, Centre for Modern Studies, University of York (co-organiser)
  • 2006   ‘Assemblage, Bricolage, and the Obsolete’, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (co-organiser)


  • 2014 -   Reviews Editor, Oxford Art Journal (Oxford University Press)
  • 2014 -   Member of editorial board, ARTMargins (MIT Press)
  • 2011 -   Member of advisory board, Tate Papers (Tate, London)
  • 2008-10 Member of editorial board, The Art Book (AAH/Wiley Blackwell)
  • 2006 -   Member of advisory board, Object (UCL, London)

External Reviewing

  • 2012 Member of international Terra Foundation Travel Grant Jury
  • 2010-2012 External examiner for MA in History of Art, University College Cork, Ireland.
  • 2008, 2010 Peer reviewer, AHRC Early Career Grant
  • 2003 -  External examiner for MA by dissertation, Christies’ Education, London

Reader of manuscripts for journals and presses including: Yale University Press, Getty Publications, Art History, American Art, Liverpool University Press, I.B. Tauris, Tate Papers, Immediations, Phaidon Press, Oxford University Press, Object.

Grants, Awards, and Prizes

  • 2013-2015 Philip Leverhulme Prize, Leverhulme Trust
  • 2014  Co-PI for CMoDS interdisciplinary research Strand, ‘Nothing’, University of York
  • 2013 Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with Tate (PhD studentship 2014-2017)
  • —  Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art Educational Programme Grant
  • —  Finalist, ARIAH Online Publishing Prize
  • —  Research Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • —  British Art Research School conference funding, University of York
  • 2011 Henry Moore Foundation Publication Grant
  • —  Pump-Priming Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • —  Publication Grant, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • 2010-2011 University of York Travel Grant (Anniversary Lectureship Prize)
  • 2009 Central University Pump-Priming Award, University of York
  • —  Pump-Priming Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • 2008 Pump-Priming Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • —  Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Leave (Matched Leave scheme)
  • 2006 University of York Teaching Innovation and Development Committee Award
  • —  Pump-Priming Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • 2003 Royal Historical Society Conference Grant
  • —  College Art Association Travel Grant
  • —  Graduate School Student Conference Grant, UCL
  • 2002 AHRC Overseas Research Award
  • 2001 University of London Graduate School Travel Award
  • —  Departmental Travel Award, History of Art Department, UCL
  • 2000 AHRB Competition B (fully-funded PhD)
  • 1998 AHRB Competition A (fully-funded MA)
Jo Applin

Contact details

Dr Jo Applin
Senior Lecturer
Department of History of Art
Room V/C/219

Tel: 01904 322943
Fax: 01904 323427