Molly Warnock

Molly Warnock

Assistant Professor

PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Gilman 138G
Personal Website

My research and writing address the visual arts primarily in Europe and the United States from early twentieth-century modernism to the present. Another key area of interest and expertise is aesthetic philosophy and critical theory since Kant, including the theory and criticism of photography, video, and film. I am especially interested in the perceived possibilities and impossibilities of painting in a period of extraordinary theoretical ferment and the proliferation of new practices, now including the efflorescence of digital technologies.

My recent book, Simon Hantaï and the Reserves of Painting (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2020), explores the work of a Hungarian-born French painter who is just beginning to be recognized as one of the most important figures in later 20th-century painting—a reputation based principally on the abstract, often large-format canvases he made between 1960 and 1982 in the medium he called pliage, or “folding.” I cover the entirety of the artist’s career, from his first experiments with folding ca. 1950 to his final works of the 2000s, crucially including his post-pliage experiments with digital scanning and printing. In so doing, I build substantially upon the focused account of the artist’s early work put forward in my prior French-language monograph, Penser la peinture: Simon Hantaï (Gallimard, 2012).

My current book projects include a study of James Bishop’s abstraction in the context of the Paris-based journal Tel Quel. Recent and forthcoming essays include “Martin Barré Returns to Painting, 1972-77” (Martin Barré, Paris: MAMCO Genève, Centre Georges Pompidou, and Flammarion, 2020); “Peripheral Paris” (United States of Abstraction: American Artists in France, 1946-1964, Nantes and Montpellier: Musée d’arts de Nantes and the Musée Fabre, 2021); “Simon Hantaï after Pliage” (Iteration: Episodes in the Mediation of Art and Architecture, Abingdon: Routledge, 2020); “Tel Quel and the Subject of American Painting” (Tate Papers, December 2019); “Full Disclosure: Molly Warnock on Gilles Aillaud’s Rhinocéros, eau et rochers, 1969” (Artforum, summer 2019); “Pieter Schoolwerth: The Painting of Délire” (in Pieter Schoolwerth: Model as Painting, New York: Sequence Press and MIT Press, 2019); and “Bishop’s Expressiveness” (in James Bishop: Malerei auf Papier / Paintings on Paper, Munich: Sieveking Verlag, 2018). (For a complete list of publications, please see my CV.)

I was educated at The Ohio State University (2000) and the Johns Hopkins University, where I completed a joint PhD in The Humanities Center and History of Art (2008). My doctoral work included two years as a Foreign Scholar in Residence at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris (2004-06) and was supported by generous grants and fellowships from the Mellon Foundation (2000-01), the Terra Foundation for American Art (2004), and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (2005-07). Before joining the faculty of Johns Hopkins in 2013, I held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Princeton University (2008-10), an ACLS-Mellon New Faculty Fellowship at the University of Chicago (2010-12), and an Assistant Professorship at Emory University (2012-13). Additional post-doctoral awards include visiting fellowships at Eikones—Center for the Theory and History of the Image, at the University of Basel, and at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (both 2015-16).

I am a frequent contributor to Artforum and a 2020-21 Ailsa Mellon Bruce Visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Washington, DC.

In addition to critical surveys of modern and contemporary art, my recent and forthcoming undergraduate courses include several seminars with curatorial components, each focused on particular aspect of twentieth-century practice and culminating in an exhibition of journals and other ephemera from the Special Collections of the Sheridan Libraries. Recent graduate courses have explored the philosophical underpinnings of art history as a modern discipline; problems in abstraction; theories of painting and subjectivity; and the concept of an aesthetic medium, among other topics.


Molly Warnock, “Exhibiting the Avant-Garde: Rare Primary Sources as Pedagogy,” invited blog post, The Innovative Instructor (September 6, 2019). Online at:

Bret McCabe, “In The Long Sixties, student curators create exhibition of Danish artist’s prolific work,” (April 26, 2017). Online at:

Bret McCabe, “Student-curated exhibition showcases Sheridan Libraries’ surrealism journals,” The Johns Hopkins Gazette (May-June 2014). Online at:

Books (Authored, Co-authored, and Edited)