The Shirley-Jones Gallery will open its fall exhibition schedule with photographs by the internationally acclaimed artist John Coplans.
A British subject, John Coplans studied art shortly after the close of World War II. His early studio work was as a painter. Convinced that the real energy of the International art world was in the United States, he emigrated to the United States in 1960. Coplans subsequently traveled to San Francisco where he wound up teaching briefly. Always an activist, he became involved with art criticism and curating and in 1962 he became the founding editor of Art Forum magazine which he guided for more than a decade.
After leaving Art Forum, Coplans did a brief stint as Director of the Akron Art Museum energizing that institution, and founded Dialogue Magazine. Then, at the age of 60, he left the arena of intellectualizing about art to return to the studio; this time as a photographer. After a number of experiments with different genres, he began in 1984 to use his own nude body exclusively as the subject of his work. This investigtion continued for the next 20 years until his death in the summer of 2003.
Coplans mature work as a photographer documents in exquisite and unflinching detail small segments and large stretches of his body. From fingers hands and feet to legs, buttocks torso, and genitals he photographed all of himself... except his head and face. The resulting images raise persuasive questions about the primacy of the young body as the exclusive subject for nude photography. These works are all titled self-portraits. They are iconic, making reference both to mortality and the complex dimensions of a life lived and now remembered through a body that is creased and weathered. The works make various layered reference to a wide range of art historical subjects.
Mr. Coplans work is represented extensively in museum collections in the US and Europe.
The exhibition runs from September 3 through October 23. It will present nineteen works from a fifteen year period. The gallery is open Wednesday-Saturday, 2-6pm and by appointment. For further information call (937) 767-1711.