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William Copley

American  •  1919-1996

Biography

William N. Copley, also known by the name of CPLY, drew attention to himself in the late 1940s by fusing elements of Surrealism and Pop Art.  Copley focused on symbols of American pop culture—staples of American society including pin-up girls, cowboys and the flag—and transformed them into more accessible, universal icons that could appeal to both men and women without bias.

In the '70s, Copley distinguished himself from the rest of the Surrealists by attempting to represent the tumultuous relationship between erotic and pornographic symbolism. He celebrated the female body, sexual freedom and, most of all, the promiscuity of America.

Insights

  • Copley features in major private and public institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, The Menil Collection, Stedelijk Museum and many more.

  • Copley was also an entrepreneur. He opened his own gallery in 1948 in Beverly Hills.

  • Man Ray was one of Copley's influences who pushed him to start making his own art.

"If you have a drawing and the drawing isn't perfect, you have a perfect drawing. If you start a painting, the painting will not be perfect until it is perfect."

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