Self Image

John Coplans - Self Portrait Upside Down

John Coplans (b. London 1920 – d. New York 2003) was a writer and curator by profession and only started to take photographs and exhibit his work in 1980. After experimenting with a range of subject matter for four years he decided, aged 64, to focus exclusively on shots of the male nude, using himself as the model.

Notably, he always left his head out of the picture in an attempt to neutralise his identity and depersonalise the image. In this way, he strived to present the general rather than the particular and related the body to a type, rather than an individual. The enlarged body parts are always shot on black and white film and provide direct and painfully honest images of the ageing process. There is also a high degree of ambiguity in many as here, where it is unclear if he is lying on his back or standing on his head?

The Ferens has another work by Coplans ‘Self Portrait Fingers’ in which he has transformed his hand by isolating it from the rest of the body and shows it larger than life-size.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Ferens Art Gallery, Hull | 
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