Joseph Masheck is a generalist art historian and critic with special interests in abstract painting and modern architecture. Born in Manhattan, he holds three degrees and a varsity letter from Columbia, where his college teachers included Meyer Schapiro (art history) and F. W. Dupee (English). Graduate work in art history, mainly under Rudolf Wittkower and Dorothea Nyberg, included a master’s thesis under Wittkower and a doctoral dissertation under Wittkower and then, on his death, Nyberg.
Masheck served as editor-in-chief of Artforum from 1977 to 1980, and has taught at Barnard College, at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard, and at Hofstra University, where he is Professor of Art History and for most of a decade directed a Graduate Humanities program. He has also taught at Columbia and Fordham universities and Hunter College, and lectured in the U. S. and Britain. He has held a Guggenheim and other fellowships, and is the first American to receive a research grant from The Malevich Society. A fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, he has been Centenary Fellow of Edinburgh College of Art (University of Edinburgh), 2006-10, and a Visiting Fellow of St. Edmund’s College of Cambridge University, in the Lent and Easter terms of 2011.
He published early on some major figures in recent art, including Robert Smithson in 1971, and Robert Grosvenor and Robert Mangold in 1974. He organized exhibitions of Richard Serra drawings, in 1974; Ed Moses drawings, in 1976; and ‘Beat Generation’ drawings from the Columbia rare book room, in 1977. In the late ‘70s, in a series of ‘Iconicity’ essays (and ‘Pictures of Art’; see ARTicles), published in Artforum as editor-in-chief, he interposed, side-by-side with modern and already known contemporary figures, especially Minimalists, newer artists such as Jake Berthot, David Diao, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Alan McCollum, Bruce Nauman, Lucio Pozzi, Erik Saxon and Joel Shapiro. He first published on Sean Scully and on Tom Nozkowski in 1981, on Doug and Mike Starn in 1986 (after including them in their first New York exhibition in 1985, with David Wojnarowicz poster), on Mike Bidlo in 1986, and on Jonathan Lasker in 1987. He also organized an exhibition of Tom Nozkowski drawings in 1983; two exhibitions of new Downtown art (at Harvard and at 55 Mercer Street) in 1985; and an exhibition of his own art collection, at the Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University, in 1986.