William N. Copley
* 1919 New York
† 1996 Key West/Florida
William N. Copley is born in New York in 1919. He studies at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts from 1932 to 1936 and from 1936 to 1938 at Yale University. He serves as a soldier from 1942 to 1946 and is sent to Africa and Italy.
Having returned to Los Angeles, William N. Copley opens an art gallery in Beverly Hills in which Surrealism is one of the main fields. He exhibits its main protagonists, organizing shows with works by Max Ernst, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Joseph Cornell, Man Ray and others.
William N. Copley's actual artistic activities begin around 1950. He follows Man Ray to Paris a year later, where he deepens his contact with the Surrealists, also using the style for his own works.
He returns to the USA in 1961, living in New York, where his art undergoes a change, Copley depicts American myths of everyday life, drawing cowboys, western saloons, pin-up-girls. He adds irony by combining them with the national flag and other symbols.
He lives in Roxbury, Connecticut as of 1980 and moves to Key West in Florida in 1992.
Copley's artistic work is very close to Surrealism, however, he is regarded as a precursor of Pop-Art. After his first one-man show in Los Angeles in 1951, several exhibitions in New York, Paris, Milan, Venice and London follow. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam acquires William N. Copley's first painting in 1961. His paintings are exhibited on the "documenta 5" in 1972 and on "documenta 7" in 1982. His works are shown in a successful traveling exhibition in 1980 that visits Bern, Paris, Amsterdam and Karlsruhe. Numerous exhibitions in galleries and museums follow up until today.
William N. Copley dies in Key West, Florida in 1996.