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Surfaces and Strategies – Considering Other Photographers – Coplans

Coplans did not become established as a photographer until he was 6o.  He was a pioneer in the genre of self-portraiture.  His specialty was large format black and white close ups of his own naked body. Coplans was fascinated with the process of ageing and what it does to our bodies.

By not including his face, Coplans was able to explore this topic without references being made to his identity.  I intend to explore the human condition through the photography of non-models.  I intend to photograph all ages, sizes and sexes.  I will record images of sagging flesh, creased folds, scars, tattoos, muscles and body hair.  Coplans work provides the stimulus for me to explore this topic further.

Figure 1: Coplans. Self Portrait (Body Language I-V). 1986

Figure 2: Coplans. Self-Portrait (Feet Frontal). 1984

Figure 3: Coplans. Self-Portrait (Back with Arms Above). 1984

Figure 4: Coplans. Self-Portrait (Torso, Front). 1984

Figure 5: Coplans. Self-Portrait (Hands Spread on Knees). 1985

Figure 6: Coplans. Self-Portrait (Frieze No. 2, Four Panels). 1994


Figure 1: Museum of Contemporary Photography. 2017. Mocp.org [online]. Available at: http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?t=objects&type=browse&f=maker&s=Coplans%2C+John&record=7 [accessed 12 May 2017].

Figure 2: ‘Self-Portrait (Feet Frontal)’, John Coplans, 1984 | Tate. 2017. Tate [online]. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/coplans-self-portrait-feet-frontal-p11670 [accessed 12 May 2017].

Figure 3: ‘Self-Portrait (Back with Arms Above)’, John Coplans, 1984 | Tate. 2017. Tate [online]. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/coplans-self-portrait-back-with-arms-above-p11671 [accessed 12 May 2017].

Figure 4: ‘Self-Portrait (Torso, Front)’, John Coplans, 1984 | Tate. 2017. Tate [online]. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/coplans-self-portrait-torso-front-p11672 [accessed 12 May 2017].

Figure 5: ‘Self-Portrait (Hands Spread on Knees)’, John Coplans, 1985 | Tate. 2017. Tate [online]. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/coplans-self-portrait-hands-spread-on-knees-p11673 [accessed 12 May 2017].

Figure 6: ‘Self-Portrait (Frieze No. 2, Four Panels)’, John Coplans, 1994 | Tate. 2017. Tate [online]. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/coplans-self-portrait-frieze-no-2-four-panels-p78534 [accessed 12 May 2017].


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