PRINT February 1998


John Coplans

DESPITE EVIDENCE TO the contrary, there is only one John Coplans. His singularity, however, has manifested itself in several careers, most recently as a photographer who, in a ruthless incremental examination of his own body, has seized narcissism by the throat. Now seventy-seven, he maintains that charged restlessness that has propelled him through enough careers to exhaust a platoon. As Stuart Morgan points out in his sympathetic introduction, “In the course of his life, . . . Coplans has been a soldier . . . then a painter; a teacher; . . . the editor of an art magazine (Artforum); . . . a curator and director of two American museums” while reinventing the role of aging enfant terrible. A London publisher has rescued Coplans’ art writing from 1963 (on Joseph Cornell) to 1980 (on Brancusi’s photographs), roughly the period during which American art writing achieved its maturity with the

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