William N. Copley


The American artist William N. Copley is one of three singular artists presented in Fringe. Known for making extraordinary and highly idiosyncratic figurative paintings (which he signed with the nom de plume 'CPLY'), William N. Copley was also a tireless participant in the European and American postwar art scene. Beginning in the late 1940s, Copley led separate ventures as a gallerist, philanthropist, publisher, and serious collector of Surrealist and Contemporary Art. Importantly, it was Surrealism that set the stage for Copley's own poetic imagination as an artist, a nonconformist sensibility that explored sexuality, humor, and a satirical view of European and American cultural politics.

A self-taught painter, Copley was formally inventive and ambitious with his work. He developed a highly original style that was as much a product of his love for the medium as it was his proud display of untrained technique. Incorporating narrative and elements of autobiography, Copley's work also contained what he described as a "private mythology," a world of recurring characters and subjects that always fascinated him. Among these are the adulterers, priests, policemen, prostitutes, and men in bowler hats that figure in many of Copley's paintings and works on paper.