Frieze, No. 8, Two Panels, 1995
Photo courtesy of Galerie Nordenhake Berlin
John Coplans: A Legacy
BERLIN • Galerie Nordenhake Berlin • Ongoing
|John Coplans started his series of self-portraits in 1984, at the age of 64. They consist of black and white photographs of his naked, aging body against a neutral white background. These are not, however, self-portraits in a traditional sense. Coplans, for example, always excludes his head, in an attempt to eliminate any biographical, historical, or cultural narrative. He fragments the body into its individual parts and utilizes the composition of sequential montage to present the human body as a form that cannot be fully described, only perceived.|
In a social context of youth and beauty, he addresses how our culture views age and masculinity. With photographs enlarged to gigantic proportions, he refuses to flatter himself. He challenges the idealistic classical tradition inherited from Greek art, which created a model of physical perfection, by favoring a more realistic approach to the human body and its inevitable aging. For Coplans, the act of posing in front of the camera gives him access to a layer of forgotten memories from a long and adventurous life.
John Coplans was born in 1920 in London and passed away in New York in 2003. He grew up between London and South Africa. He was one of the founding editors of the magazine Artforum (1962) with Phil Leider and gradually became involved in art criticism. He curated a series of exhibitions with accompanying catalogues in 1967-1978, namely James Turrell (1967), Robert Irwin (1968), Roy Lichtenstein (1968), Andy Warhol (1970), Richard Serra (1970), Donald Judd (1971), Ellsworth Kelly (1972), and Weegee: Täter und Opfer (1978).
Coplans' photography works have been shown in and acquired by museums in Europe and the United States.
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