Pamela Lee

(Regarding graduate school: She will be reviewing applications for PhD study in modern and contemporary art history for the fall 2024 cohort. Lee is happy to answer specific questions about the program through email. She also encourages interested students to explore the department’s “Red Book” for general information about the program.

Please note, on the other hand, Lee will not be scheduling meetings with applicants, nor reviewing material (statement of purpose, CVs, writing samples, etc.) in advance of the official application submission.

For other questions on the graduate program in the History of Art, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Edward Cooke at

B.A., Yale University
Ph.D., Harvard University
The Whitney Independent Study Program
The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Pamela M. Lee teaches the history, theory and criticism of late modernism and contemporary art with research interests in the relationship between aesthetics, politics, war, time and system. Her courses include lectures and seminars on Abstract Expressionism; the art of the 1960s; contemporary art and globalization; intergenerational and intersectional feminism; methods and historiography; art and technology; modernism and war; and media cultures of the Cold War.

Professor Lee taught at Stanford University from 1997-2018, where she held the Osgood Hooker Professorship in Fine Arts. She has published six single-authored books including Object to be Destroyed: The Work of Gordon Matta-Clark (2000); Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s (2004); and Forgetting the Art World (2012). New Games: Postmodernism after Contemporary Art  was published by Routledge in 2012.

Lee is currently researching how the notion of “small war,” elaborated by theorists of the Napoleonic Wars, has been generalized within contemporary culture and finds expression outside regimes of martial spectacle: what the Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz called the “theater of operation.” Her study considers a range of artists from the 19th century to the present, including Francisco Goya, John Trumbull, John Singleton Copley, William Giles Munson, An-My Lê, Kevin Beasley, Betye Saar, Mel Chin, Renée Stout, The Propeller Group, Anicka Yi, and Matthew Angelo Harrison. Recently, Lee has been tracking the relationship between art, guns, the concept of “interchangeability,” race and gender.

Lee is on the editorial board of OCTOBER, which she joined in 2018.

Editor, special thematic cluster on “burnout,” in OCTOBER 176, 2021

“Our Names: An Open Letter to Asian Sisters,” in OCTOBER 175, 2021