William N. Copley at Fondazione Prada Milano, through January 8, 2017

“This retrospective retraces the entire career of the American artist William N. Copley – started in Los Angeles in the 1940s, developed in Paris and subsequently spanned across Europe and the United States. Expanded considerably compared to the partner show in Houston, at Fondazione Prada “William N. Copley” stands out for its richness and the presence of never-before-seen materials. The exhibition includes over 150 works realized by Copley from 1948 to 1995, from international museums and collections all over the world, and constitutes the largest retrospective ever dedicated to the American painter.

William N. Copley (1919–1996) embodied the figure of the eclectic, self-taught artist, as well as tireless cultural promoter through his work as a journalist, publisher, gallery owner and art collector. Influenced by Surrealism, American folk culture and cartoons, Copley employed humor and intelligence to explore themes that became recurrent in his production, including pornography, patriotism and the unexpected potential of everyday objects. In over five decades of activity, Copley created a corpus of artworks animated with ferocious satire, cunning and an open challenge to conventions.” — Fondazione Prada

children-of-dynosaurus-1949

William N. Copley. Children of Dynosaurus, 1948, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 101.6 cm. Collection of Halley K. Harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld, New York

mexican-images-dream-od-oaxaca-1948

William N. Copley. Mexican Images (Dream of Oaxaca), 1948, oil on canvas, 49.5 x 39.4 cm. Collection of Billy Copley and Claire Copley. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York. Photo Dan Bradica

fondazione-prada-william-copley-12

Installation view of the exhibition “William N. Copley” at Fondazione Prada, Milan. Photo Roberto Marossi

unijambiste-1951-53

William N. Copley. Unijambiste, 1951–53, oil on canvas, 83 x 130 cm. Andy Jllien Collection, Zurich. Photo Sascha Fuis Photographie, Cologne

feel-like-a-hundred-bucks-1986

William N. Copley. Feel Like A Hundred Bucks, 1986, acrylic, charcoal, and mirror on canvas, 127.3 x 254.3 cm. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York

portrait-of-the-artist-as-a-young-ex-patriot-1951

William N. Copley. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ex‑Patriot, 1951, oil and collage on canvas, 53.3 x 72.4 cm. Private Collection. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York

baby-rose-1952

William N. Copley. Baby Rose, 1952, collage, oil and wallpaper on canvas, 72.4 x 59.3 cm. Collection Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

on-the-beach-a-la-mer-1962

William N. Copley. On the Beach (A La Mer), 1962, oil on canvas, 116.2 x 88.9 cm. Collection of Billy Copley. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York

french-horn-and-piano-stool-1970

William N. Copley. French Horn and Piano Stool, 1970, acrylic on canvas, 114.3 x 147.3 cm. Collection of Claire Copley and Alan Eisenberg. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York

fondazione-prada-william-copley-7

Installation view of the exhibition “William N. Copley” at Fondazione Prada, Milan. Photo Roberto Marossi

bicycle-1970

William N. Copley. Bicycle, 1970, acrylic on canvas, 80 × 96.5 cm. Collection of Karin Tappendorf. Photo David M. Ward

fondazione-prada-william-copley-3

Installation view of the exhibition “William N. Copley” at Fondazione Prada, Milan. Photo Roberto Marossi

boy-meets-girl-cplyland-1962

William N. Copley. Boy Meets Girl (Cplyland), 1962, oil on canvas, 88.9 x 116.2 cm. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York. Photo Joshua White

1776-and-all-that-1976

William N. Copley. 1776 and All That, 1976, acrylic on canvas, 164 x 132 cm. Prada Collection. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate, New York

fondazione-prada-william-copley-13

Left: William N. Copley. The Happy Hour, 1978, acrylic on canvas. Right: William N. Copley. Nuit Puerto Ricain, 1978, acrylic, leather on canvas. Photo Roberto Marossi

the-happy-hour-1978

William N. Copley. The Happy Hour, 1978, acrylic on canvas, 167.7 x 140 cm. Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden

i-give-aid-and-comfort-1986

William N. Copley. I Give Aid and Comfort, 1986, acrylic on canvas, 211 x 305 cm. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York

untitled-apples-and-oranges-1986

William N. Copley. Untitled (Apples and Oranges), 1986, acrylic and lace on canvas, 195.6 x 152.4 cm. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate and Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York. Photo Christopher Burke

trust-lust-1988

William N. Copley. Trust Lust, 1988, acrylic and marker on canvas, 96.5 x 129. 5 cm. Private Collection. Courtesy Paul Kasmin Gallery and VENUS, New York

george-skibine-and-william-n-copley-1964

George Skibine and William N.Copley with Smile (You are on camera) (1963) painting by Copley, 1964. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate, New York

william-n-copley-1930s

William N. Copley, 1930s. Courtesy William N. Copley Estate, New York

Exhibition organized in collaboration with the Menil Collection, Houston. The Italian counterpart of this retrospective is curated by Germano Celant.

Images courtesy Fondazione Prada.