John Coplans


John Coplans
Self-portrait (torso)
1984
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of Haverford College Special Collections
Photo Review Auction Purchase
Fall 1991

When John Coplans began photographing his aging body after he turned 60, he embarked on a documentation of age that is alternately humorous, reflective, and disquieting in the closeness of its observation. Seeing himself as an actor, Coplans examines various body parts closely, often quoting art historical postures with his sagging figure. Self-Portrait, Three Times is exemplary of his scrutinization of idealized expectations of the body and the self.

Born in London in 1920, John Coplans was educated in South Africa and England. After immigrating to the United States in 1960, he began teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. Coplans was the founding editor of Artforum magazine. Coplans worked as the senior curator of the Pasadena Art Museum from 1967 to 1970 and as the director of the Akron Art Museum in 1978. He has published numerous articles of art criticism, and his books include Weegee: Tater und Opfer (1978), Ellsworth Kelly (1973), Roy Lichtenstein (1972), Andy Warhol (1970), Serial Imagery (1968), and Cezanne Watercolors (1967). Coplan’s extremely close-up nude self-portraits have been exhibited at numerous institutions worldwide. He received the Frank Jewitt Mather Award of the College Art Association for services to art criticism in 1974; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships in 1969 and 1985; and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in 1975, 1980, 1986, and 1992.

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