Self-taught American artist William Nelson Copley (1919–1996) pushed the limits of art-world decorum throughout his career. Known by his signature moniker CPLY, he explored his lifelong preoccupations with Americana, puritanical hypocrisy, and the battle of the sexes through a body of largely figurative paintings, drawings, and installations that bucked the prevailing trends towards abstraction in post-World War II art. His assiduous and vivid experimentation with form, style, color, and material continued throughout his career, and his paintings, drawings, and works in other media reflect a thorough understanding of contemporaneous art movements. Copley was also a collector, gallerist, and connector of some of the most important artists of the 20th century, including Max Ernst, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, and Andy Warhol. Featuring approximately 250 paintings and works on paper, this publication provides an overview of this under-appreciated artist’s 50-odd years of creation.
About the Authors
Germano Celant is an art historian, critic, and curator. He currently serves as the artistic director of Fondazione Prada, Milan.
Gwen L. Allen is an assistant professor of art history at San Francisco State University, where she specializes in modern and contemporary art, art criticism, and visual culture. She is the author of Artists’ Magazines: An Alternative Space for Art (2011).
Paul B. Franklin is an independent scholar and journalist. He has written extensively on Marcel Duchamp and was the editor and translator of The Artist and His Critic Stripped Bare: The Correspondence of Marcel Duchamp and Robert Lebel (2016)
Alison M. Gingeras is a curator and writer. She has contributed texts to Artforum and Parkett, among other publications, and is adjunct curator at the Dallas Contemporary, where she organized Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics (2016).
Jonathan Griffin is a freelance writer, critic, editor, and curator. His work has appeared in Flash Art, Aperture, Art in America, and the Brooklyn Rail, and he co-authored and edited Grizedale Arts: Adding Complexity To Confusion (2009).
Toby Kamps is curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection, Houston. His curatorial endeavors at the museum include Nice. Luc Tuymans, Wols: A Retrospective, and Silence, and he was a primary contributor to their respective catalogues.