Home Artists John Coplans


John Coplans

1920 - 2003
London, United Kingdom

1 Works exhibited on Kooness

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Works by John Coplans

Self Portrait


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John Rivers Coplans (London, 24 June 1920 – New York City, 21 August 2003) was a British artist, art writer, curator, and museum director. A veteran of World War II and a photographer, he emigrated to the United States in 1960 and had many exhibitions in Europe and North America. He was on the founding editorial staff of Artforum from 1962 to 1971, and was Editor-in-Chief from 1972 to 1977.

Coplans is known for his series of black and white self-portraits which are a frank study of the naked, aging body. He photographed his body from the base of his foot to the wrinkles on his hand. As he never photographed his face, his images are not focused on a specific man nor identity. His technique for making the photographs involved use of Polaroid positive/negative 4x5 film, so that he could quickly see the result of the poses and make immediate adjustments. He later used a video camera connected to a television monitor to see the back of the 4x5 camera for an even more immediate mirror effect. Although this technique deepened his control and accuracy, it is of note that he claimed to possess a sense of pre-determined clarity about the poses. 

His photographs ultimately question the taboo of age through the provocative and direct style of addressing his body.