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 is a member of the editorial boards of Oxford Art Journal (currently also Reviews Editor), ARTMargins, and Tate Papers. She also sits on the Academic Advisory Board for the Terra Foundation/Tate Research Project Refiguring American Art 1945-1980. From Autumn 2016, Jo will be Director of the Centre for Modern Studies at the University of York.

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).

In 2015 she was awarded the Suzanne and James Mellor Book Prize from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. for her book Not Working: Lee Lozano versus the Art World 1961-1971 (forthcoming, Yale University Press).In 2016 she will be a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies, and a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge.


As well as completing her book on Lee Lozano, Jo is currently co-editing a special issue of Oxford Art Journal, which will include an article on the re-figuration of feminist time in the work of Ida Applebroog. She is also editing, with Catherine Spencer and Amy Tobin, a book titled London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks 1960-1980 (Penn State University Press, forthcoming) and has recently been commissioned to write the first book on the British abstract sculptor Alison Wilding (Lund Humphries and Ridinghouse, 2018). Jo is co-curating a major loan exhibition, titled Flesh: Skin and Surface, which opens at York Art Gallery in September 2016.

Research group(s)


In Progress

Amina Diab, ‘Egyptian Art and Surrealism in the 20th century’. Collaborative Doctoral Project with Tate, co-supervisor Morad Montazami, Tate Modern.

Illaria Grando, ‘Felix Gonzalez-Torres and the AIDS Crisis’. Co-supervisor with Dr. James Boaden.

Louisa Lee, ‘Conceptual Art in Britain, 1965-1979’. Collaborative Doctoral Project with Tate, co-supervisor 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


Not Working: Lee Lozano vs the Art World (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, forthcoming)

London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks 1960-1980, Jo Applin, Catherine Spencer, and Amy Tobin (eds) (University Park: Penn State University Press, forthcoming) 

Eccentric Objects: Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012)

  • Nominated for the Charles C. Eldredge Prize.
  • Reviewed in: Art History, Oxford Art Journal, CAA Reviews, Modernism/Modernity, Sculpture Journal, Choice, Cassone, Ceramic Review, The Art Book Review.

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 Special Issues

‘House, Work, Artwork: Feminism and Art History’s New Domesticities’, Jo Applin and Francesca Berry (eds) Oxford Art Journal (forthcoming 2016)

'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)


‘Down Tools: Lee Lozano’s Dropouts’, October, 155 (Winter 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), 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, 2015), pp. 44-77.

‘Last Things: Jackson Pollock’s Sculpture’ in Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots (Dallas and London: Dallas Museum of Art and Tate,  2015), pp. 89-101 

‘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.

Exhibition Reviews

‘Michael Krebber’, Maureen Paley, London, Artforum, Dec 2015, pp. 267-268.

‘Imi Knoebel’, White Cube Bermondsey, London, Artforum, November 2015, 314-315.

‘Jo Baer’, Camden Arts Centre, London, Artforum, Sept 2015, pp. 395-396.

 ‘Art & Language’, Lisson Gallery, London, Artforum, Mar 2015, p. 290.

‘Mary Reid Kelley’, Pilar Corrias, London, Artforum, Dec 2014, p. 317.

‘Judith Bernstein’, Studio Voltaire, London, Artforum, Nov 2014, p. 288.

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

‘Al Taylor’, David Zwirner, London, Artforum, May 2014, p. 329.          

‘Dennis Oppenheim’, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, Artforum, March 2014, pp. 297-298.

‘Sarah Lucas’, Whitechapel Gallery, London, Artforum, Feb 2014, pp. 223-224.

‘Liz Deschenes’, Campoli Presti, London, Artforum, Jan 2014, p. 222.

‘Pauline Boty’, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Artforum, Dec 2013, p. 278.         

‘Geraldo de Barros’, Photographers’ Gallery, London, Artforum, April 2013, p. 270.

‘The Artist’s Placement Group’, Raven Row, London, Artforum, Jan 2013, p. 217.

‘Keith Coventry’, PEER, London, Artforum, Jan 2013, p. 218.

‘Lindsay Seers’, Tin Tabernacle, London, Artforum, Dec 2012, p.286.

‘The Bruce Lacey Experience’, Camden Art Centre, London,, Oct 2012.

‘Hanne Darboven’, Camden Arts Centre, London, Artforum, June 2012, p. 327.

‘Gallery in Focus: mima’, The Art Book, 16:2, Aug 2009, p. 69.

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

‘With Hidden Noise: Sculpture, Video, Ventriloquism’, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds,

The Art Book, 12:1, Feb 2005, p. 16-17

Book Reviews

Robert Slifkin, ‘Out of Time: Philip Guston and the Refiguration of Postwar American Art’, Journal of American Studies, 49:4, Nov 2015, pp. 936-937.

‘The Poetry of Scrawl’, review of Kate Nesin ‘Cy Twombly’s Things’ and Nicola del Roscio, ed., ‘The Essential Cy Twombly’, Times Literary Supplement, 10April 2015, p. 5.

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

Michael Bird, ‘Lynn Chadwick’, Times Literary Supplement, 5 Sept, 2014, p. 26.

Anna Dezeuze and Julia Kelly, ‘Found Sculpture and Photography From Surrealism to Contemporary Art’, Modernism/Modernity, 21:1, Spring 2014, pp. 387-389.

‘Tomma Abts, Noeme, 2004’, Tate Summaries, Feb 2014.

‘Gerhard Richter, Abstract Painting 726, 1990’, Tate Summaries, Feb 2014.

‘Peter Davies, Small Touching Squares Painting, 1998’, Tate Summaries, Feb 2014.

Joshua Shannon, ‘The Disappearance of Objects’, Sculpture Journal, 20:1, 2011, pp 99-101.

Charles Harrison, ‘Since 1950: Art and its Criticism’, Modernism/Modernity, 17:3, 2010, pp. 702-704.

Jacqueline Lichtenstein, ‘The Blind Spot: An Essay on the Relations between Painting and Sculpture in the Modern Age’, The Art Book, 16:2, May 2009, pp. 41-42.

Arthur C. Danto and Ralph Rugoff, ‘Tom Friedman: Monsters and Stuff’, The Art Book, 16:2, May 2009, pp. 25-26.

David Hulks, Alex Potts and Jon Wood eds., ‘Modern Sculpture Reader’, The Art Book, 15:1, Feb 2008, pp. 48-49.

Elisabeth Sussman ed., ‘You are the measure: Gordon Matta Clark’, The Art Book, 15:3, August 2008, pp. 37-18.

Glenn Phillips and Tom Crow eds., ‘Seeing Rothko’, The Art Book, 14:1, Feb 2007, pp. 51-52.

Elisabeth Sussman and Fred Wasserman eds., ‘Eva Hesse: Sculpture’ and Catherine de Zegher ed., ‘Eva Hesse: Drawing’, The Art Book, 14:4, Nov 2007, pp. 31-32.

‘All at Sea’, review of David McCarthy, ‘H. C. Westermann at War: Art and Manhood in Cold War America’, Oxford Art Journal, 29:3, Oct 2006, pp. 441-446.

James Meyer ed., ‘Carl Andre, Cuts: Texts 1959-2004’, The Art Book, 13:2, May 2006, pp. 35-36.

Michael Govan and Tiffany Bell eds., ‘Dan Flavin: A Retrospective’, The Art Book, 12:3, August 2005, pp. 21-22.

Anne Rorimer and Ann Goldstein eds., ‘A Minimal Future? Art as Object 1958-1965’, The Art Book, 12:2, May 2005, pp. 48-49.

James Meyer, ‘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 been invited to give lectures at University of Cambridge (2016), University of Birmingham (2016), INHA, Paris (2015), Middlesex University (2014), Tate Liverpool (2015, 2012), 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), 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

  • 2015  'House, Work, Artwork: Feminism and Art History’s New Domesticities’, University of York and University of Birmingham (co-organiser)
  • 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: Oxford Art Journal, ARTMargins, Yale University Press, Manchester University Press, Getty Publications, Penn State University Press, Art HistoryAmerican Art, Sculpture Journal, Liverpool University Press, I.B. Tauris, Tate PapersImmediations, Phaidon Press, Oxford University Press, Object.

Grants, Awards, and Prizes

  • 2015 Suzanne and James Mellor Book Prize, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.
  • 2015 Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art Research Support Grant
  • 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)
  • 2013 Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art Educational Programme Grant
  • 2013 Finalist, ARIAH Online Publishing Prize
  • 2013 Research Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • 2013 British Art Research School conference funding, University of York
  • 2011 Henry Moore Foundation Publication Grant
  • 2011 Pump-Priming Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • 2011 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
  • 2009 Pump-Priming Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • 2008 Pump-Priming Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • 2008 Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Leave (Matched Leave scheme)
  • 2006 University of York Teaching Innovation and Development Committee Award
  • 2006 Pump-Priming Award, Department of History of Art, University of York
  • 2003 Royal Historical Society Conference Grant
  • 2003 College Art Association Travel Grant
  • 2003 Graduate School Student Conference Grant, UCL
  • 2002 AHRC Overseas Research Award
  • 2001 University of London Graduate School Travel Award
  • 2001 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
Department of History of Art

Office Hours: Thursdays 1pm-2pm apart from week 6