John Coplans was a British artist, curator, museum director, and critic best known as a founding member and one-time editor-in-chief of Artforum magazine. Coplans' most famed artworks consisted of a series of black-and-white photos depicting segments of his own naked body, but never his face.
"So, I'm using my body and saying, even though it's a 70-year-old body, I can make it interesting", he said of the work. "I don't know how it happens, but when I pose for one of these photographs, I become immersed in the past... I am somewhere else, another person, or a woman in another life. At times, I'm in my youth."
Born John Rivers Coplans on June 24, 1920 in London, United Kingdom, he moved between Cape Town and London throughout his childhood. After serving in World War II, Coplans pursued painting and was largely influenced by Abstract Expressionists like Willem de Kooning and the movement known as Tachisme. He moved to the United States in 1960, settling in San Francisco where he met the other founding members of Artforum. It was not until the early 1980s that Coplans began producing his own visual art again, and today his works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others.
Coplans died on August 21, 2003 in New York, NY.