Born in New York, 1919. Died in Key West, Florida, 1996.
William N. Copley, known by his signature name CPLY, (pronounced 'see-ply'), was a painter, writer, gallerist, art patron, publisher, and art entrepreneur. In the art world he was an influential outsider. CPLY began to paint around the same time he started a gallery in Los Angeles 1947. There he exhibited Magritte, Max Ernst, Roberto Matta, Joseph Cornell and Man Ray among others. His success as a gallerist was nonexistent, during the 6 month long career as a gallery owner he sold only two works. Instead he travelled to Paris together with Man Ray in 1951 and met the Surrealists, which brought on a touch of the Surrealist language in his art.
Back in USA 1961 Copley found the imagery that came to characterize the rest of his production. He focused, in painting and in ink drawings, on different American myths such as Western salons and cowboys. Pinup women were recurring subjects in his work and he often gave them status symbols such as the American flag, for the irony of it.
He had his first solo exhibition 1951 in Los Angeles and after that he was exhibited freuquently in USA. Later Galerie Springer in Berlin tied him to the gallery and from that followed many shows through out Europe. He participated in Documenta 5 and 7 and had a large exhibition shown in Bern, Paris, Amsterdam and Karlsruhe. Together with his wife Noma he started a scolarschip 1954, the William and Noma Copley Foundation, awarding artist Hans Bellmer among others. His work is held in private and public collections worldwide, such as the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and Tate in London. Recently the subject of a comprehensive traveling retrospective organized by The Menil Collection and Fondazione Prada (2017), Copley is now seen as a singular personage of post-war painting and important linkage between European Surrealism and American Pop Art.