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John Coplans | British, 1920 - 2003

English photographer, painter, writer and curator. John Coplans took his first photographs in 1941, while serving in the King's African Rifles in Ethiopia. Upon his return to London in 1946 he studied painting, and had a first exhibition of his tachiste-influenced abstract paintings at the New Visions Centre Gallery, London, in 1957. Inspired by the exhibition The New American Painting (London, Tate, 1959), Coplans moved to the USA in 1960 and began teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1962 he co-founded the periodical Artforum, to provide coverage of the growing West Coast art scene. In 1971 he settled in New York as the editor of Artforum, a position he held until 1977. A year later, under the influence of his friend the photographer Lee Friedlander, he began once again to take photographs. He abandoned journalism, writing his last article, on Philip Guston's influential late figurative paintings, in 1980.

In 1984 Coplans began taking the photographs of his own body with which he established his international reputation as an artist. These large-scale black-and-white images, enlarged from 4×5 inch Polaroid photographs and often presented in groups, are candid and sometimes humorous explorations of his own body. By cropping off the head, Coplans presents these depersonalised images of the body as a surprising, intriguing object, fascinating in detail and malleability. His work also stands as a riposte to the cult of youth and beauty represented by commercial photography and what he saw as the vanities of the 1980s art world.

Solo Exhibitions

2001"John Coplans: Self-Portraits," Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, Sept. 5 - 13
"John Coplans: Self-Portraits." Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin, Sept. 8 - 16
2000"John Coplans: A Self-Portrait, 1984 - 1997," ICAR, The Institute for the Cooperation of Art Research, Paris, Jan. 27 - Mar. 26
"Self-Portrait: Finger," Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, Feb. 10 - Mar. 3
"John Coplans: Self-Portrait Fingers," Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris, Mar. 18 - Apr. 18
"John Coplans: A Self-Portrait," 1984 - 2000, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm, Apr. 4 - May 28; Catalogue with text by Eva Strom
1999"John Coplans: Self-Portraits," Art Affairs, Amsterdam, Jan. 9 - Feb. 7
"John Coplans: Legs Horizontal, Crossed Fingers," Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, May 15 - July 10
"John Coplans: Self-Portraits," Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, May 29 - July 25; Catalogue with text by Martin Hammer
"Self-Portrait (Upside Down)," Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milan, Sept. 27 - Oct. 31
"John Coplans - A Self-Portrait 1984-1999," Malmo Konsthall, Sweden, Nov. 27, 1999 - Jan. 9, 2000
"Self-Portrait: Finger," Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, Dec. 10, 1999 - Jan. 22, 2000
1998"Upside Down," Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, Feb. 7 - Mar. 3
"John Coplans: A Self-Portrait (1984-1997)." Paco das Artes, Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 6 - June 12
1997"Self-Portrait," Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris, Mar. 1 - April 5
"Self-Portraits" London Projects, London, Aug. 28 - Oct. 26
"John Coplans: A Self-Portrait, 1984 - 1997," P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York, Oct. 26 - Dec. 6; Catalogue with text by Jean-François Chevrier
"Self-Portrait Polaroids," Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, Nov. 28, 1997 - Jan. 3, 1998
1996"Self-Portrait Frieze," Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, Jan. 6 - Feb. 3
"Self-Portrait Frieze," Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica, California, Mar. 9 - Apr. 13
"Self-Portrait," Galerie Coppens, Brussels, Apr. 25 - June 1
"Self-Portrait," London Projects, London, May 2 - June 1
"John Coplans," Galeria Senda, Barcelona, May 2 - 30
"Self-Portrait," Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm, Aug. 24 - Sept. 14
"Self-Portrait Frieze," Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Nov. 23, 1996 - Jan. 10, 1997
"John Coplans: Autorretratos," Galeria Visa, Valencia, Spain, Nov. 29, 1996 - Jan. 8, 1997
1995"Self-Portrait," Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany, Jan. 19 - Feb. 28; Poster: Self-Portrait (feet frontal ), 1984
"Self-Portrait," Galerie der Stadt Kornwestheim, Germany, Apr. 7 - June 4
"Self-Portrait Frieze," Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, Dec. 1, 1995 - Jan. 13, 1996
1994"John Coplans: Back Series," Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, Feb. 12 - Mar. 8
"Self-Portrait ," Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Mar. 2 - 27; Catalogue with interview by Jean de Loisy
"Self-Portrait," Feigen Gallery, Chicago, Mar. 19 - Apr. 23
"John Coplans: Upside Down Series," Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York , May 26 - July 2
1993"Self-Portrait: Back," Asher/Faure Gallery, Los Angeles, Jan. 9 - Feb. 6
"Self-Portrait: Back," Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris, Mar. 13 - Apr. 17
"Self-Portrait," Galleria Massimo de Carlo, Milan, June 1 - July 29
"Self-Portrait," Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Nov. 19, 1993 - Jan. 10, 1994
1992"John Coplans: Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, Feb. 1 - 26
"John Coplans," Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, Sept. 10 - Oct. 10
"John Coplans: A Retrospective," Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Sept. 17 - Oct. 25; Catalogue with texts by Jean-François Chevrier and Jorge Molder
"Self-Portrait," Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Nov. 19, 1992 - Jan. 10, 1993
1991"John Coplans: Self-Portrait," Matrix Gallery, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, Jan. 13 - Mar. 24; Brochure with text by Andrea Miller-Keller
"John Coplans," Galerie Lelong, New York, Mar. 14 - Apr. 20; Catalogue with interview by Jean-François Chevrier
"John Coplans," Liverpool Gallery, Brussels, Nov. 15, 1991 - Jan. 11, 1992; Catalogue with text by Ben Lifson
"John Coplans," Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Connecticut, Nov. 24, 1991 - Jan. 10, 1992; Brochure with text by Zina Davis
1990"Self-Portrait: Foot," Galerie Lelong, New York , Jan. 9 - Feb. 10
"A Body of Work," Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, Feb. 10 - Mar. 13
"Self-Portrait," Tomasulo Art Gallery, Union College, Cranford, New Jersey, Mar. 2 - 30; Poster: Self-Portrait (hand , spread fingers), 1987, 31 x 17 in
"Self-Portrait," Frankfurter Kunstverein, Germany, June 2 - July 8; Catalogue with text by Peter Weiermair; Poster: Self-Portrait, (hands spread on knees), 1985, 33 x 24 in
"John Coplans: Hand," Galeria Comicos, Luis Serpa, Lisbon, Portugal, Sept. 20 - Oct. 20
"John Coplans: Self-Portrait, Hand and Foot," Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen , Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Nov. 25, 1990 - Jan . 20, 1991; Catalogue with text by Jean-François Chevrier
1989"Self-Portraits: Hand," Galerie Lelong, New York , Jan. 12 - Feb. 11
"John Coplans: Mains," Salon d'Angle de la Regionale des Affaires Culturelles, Nantes, France, Jan. 27 - Feb. 28; Catalogue with artist's statement and text by Jean-François Chevrier (Travels to Abbaye de Bouchemaine, Angers, Mar. 3 - Apr. 15; Centre d'Art Passages, Troyes, Apr. 22 - June 8)
"John Coplans: Photographs," Dart Gallery, Chicago, June 9 - July 7
"John Coplans: Autoportrait, 1984-1989," Musee de la Vieille Charite, Marseille, France, June 30 - Sept. 17; Catalogue with text by Ben Lifson
"John Coplans: Hand, "Blum Helman Gallery, Los Angeles, Aug. 12 - Sept. 2
"Coplans," Galerie Lelong, Paris, Sept. 27 - Oct. 28
"John Coplans," In Extremis/Photographie Contemporaine, Strasbourg, France, Sept. 29 - Oct. 25
"A Body of Work," Ginny Williams Gallery, Denver, Nov. 3 - Dec. 6
1988"A Body of Work: Photographs by John Coplans ," San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Feb. 19 - Apr. 10; Catalog with text by Sandra Phillips (Travels to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Apr. 23 - July 10; University of Missouri Art Gallery, Kansas City, Nov. 6 - Dec. 12; The Art Institute of Chicago, Jan. 21 -Apr. 23, 1989)
Dart Gallery, Chicago, Mar. 12 - Apr. 23
"John Coplans: A Body of Work," Sala d'Exposicions de la Fundacio Caixa de Pensions, Barcelona, Apr. 29 - May 29; Catalogue with artist's statement and text by Pierre Formiguera; Poster: Self-Portrait (back with arms above), 1984, 24 x 17 in
"John Coplans: Autoportraits," Rencontres Photographiques en Bretagne, Centre de Kerpape, Ploemeur, France, Nov. 3- 30
1987Perspectief Gallery, Rotterdam , The Netherlands, May 9 - June 3
"John Coplans: Self-Portrait Photographs," Hillman Holland Fine Arts, Atlanta, Georgia, May 31 - June 26
"John Coplans: Self-Portrait, 1983-1987,"Bium Helman Gallery, Los Angeles, July 9 - Aug. 1
1986"John Coplans: Photographies," Musee du Nouveau Monde, La Rochelle, France, Mar. 19 - Apr. 27; Poster: SelfPortrait (feet frontal ), 1984, 28 x 20 in
"John Coplans: Self-Portrait 1984-1985," Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York , Mar. 27 - Apr. 26
Martin Gallery, Washington, D.C., Dec. 12, 1986 - Jan. 6, 1987
1985Clarence Kennedy Gallery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Jan. 8- Feb. 16
"John Coplans Photographien, 1980-1984," Rudolf Kicken Galerie, Cologne, Mar. 30 - Apr. 27
"John Coplans: Photographs, 1980-1985," The Fine Arts Gallery, University of California, Irvine, Apr. 9 - May 4; Catalogue with artist's statement and text by Melinda Wortz
Galerie 666, Paris, Sept. 19 - Oct. 26
Film in the Cities Gallery, St. Paul, Minnesota, Oct. 7 - 30
"John Coplans: Photographer," Madison Art Center, Wisconsin, Dec. 14, 1985 - Feb. 16, 1986
1984Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, Apr. 27 - May 6
"John Coplans: Photographs," Emily H. Davis Gallery, The University of Akron, Ohio, Nov. 26 - Dec. 22
1982"John Coplans: Recent Photographs," New Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio, Jan. 26- Mar. 6
"John Coplans: Photographs," Daniel Wolfe Gallery, New York, May 11 - June 5
1981"John Coplans: Photographs," Daniel Wolfe Gallery, New York, Feb. 3 - 28
"John Coplans: Recent Portraits," The Art Institute of Chicago, May 25 - July 5