William N. Copley

William N. Copley (1919–1996), aka CPLY, was an American artist mostly known as a painter and writer, but also worked as gallerist and publisher and was an avid collector. He studied English at Yale University before enrolling in the army during the Second World War. After the war, he briefly worked as a reporter before opening a gallery in Los Angeles in 1948 together with John Ployardt, an animator for Walt Disney Studios who had introduced him to Surrealist artists, including Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. The latter became a close friend and a strong influence on Copley, who closed the gallery after only one year and dedicated himself entirely to painting from then on. He moved to Paris in 1949, where he lived until 1962–63, before moving back to the United States.

Institutional exhibitions

The Coffin They Carry You Off In, ICA – Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL, United States


The World According to CPLY, Menil Collection, Houston, TX, United States, travelling to Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy


MAMCO – Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland


Easy to Read Storybook, BAWAG Foundation, Vienna, Austria


Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Netherlands


Missing Link, Herning Kunstmuseum, Herning, Germany


Heed Greed Trust Lust, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, Germany


The Tomb of the Unknown Whore, The New Museum, New York, NY, United States


Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland, travelling to Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany


X-Rated: An Exhibition of New Paintings and Drawings, New York Cultural Center, New York, NY, United States


Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Paintings, ICA – Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, England


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Nu de dos
Imaginary Flags of Ten Countries

William N. Copley

Nu de dos
Nu de dos, 1965
Dispersion on canvas
53 x 64 cm