Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to present William N. Copley, The Patriotism of CPLY and All That, on view 18 October - 21 November, 2012 at 293 Tenth Avenue, New York. Referencing the historic exhibition by the same title at Iolas Gallery in 1976, this exhibition of Copley’s Patriotic works is emblematic of the social satire and political humor found throughout the artist’s oeuvre.
In the paintings on view, which span over a quarter century of CPLY’s career, the artist marshals the visual language of American patriotism to create riotous works full of wit and colorful pomp. A field of stars and stripes vignette a comely reclining nude, the Washington Monument becomes a bathroom stall tableau for CPLY’s own symbolic scrawls, firecrackers and unlit matches embrace in a kiss.
As a painter, writer, gallerist, and publisher, the artist blazed a singular path through numerous territories of post-war art, along the way charting a vital link between the European Surrealist and the American Pop Art movements. CPLY believed that “what [Surrealism] was always meant to be in terms of painting (more so perhaps than even Breton realized) was an opening of doors to the poetic possible through which contemporary art was going to penetrate." CPLY expanded on this idea of poetic penetration in the realms of contemporary art through his Patriotic paintings.
William N. Copley’s (1919 – 1996) work is included in private and public collections worldwide. CPLY has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and a traveling retrospective at the Kunsthalle Bern, Centre Georges Pompidou, and the Stedelijk Van Abbesmuseum, and has taken part in important group exhibitions including in documenta 5 and documenta 7, and most recently, two major retrospectives at Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden, and the Max Ernst Museum in Nruhl, Germany. CPLY’s interest in the art world was cultivated through meeting John Ployardt, an animator at Disney studios, and Man Ray during his time spent in Los Angeles in the 1940s. In 1948, Copley and Ployardt opened their own gallery space called The Copley Galleries, and featured Surrealist artists including Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, Yves Tanguy, and Man Ray. After the gallery’s one-year run, Copley began focusing on painting full-time.
A fully-illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition, featuring a conversation between CPLY’s son, William B. Copley, and Vincent Fremont, about the life and work of CPLY.