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Press Release

Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to announce William N. Copley: Drawings (1962 – 1973) on view at 297 Tenth Avenue from January 8 – February 7, 2015. The exhibition will include over thirty works and is the Copley Estate’s fourth exhibition with the gallery following X-Rated (2010), The Patriotism of CPLY and All That (2012) and Confiserie CPLY (2013).

Before 1962, William Copley worked almost exclusively as a painter. Moving to New York after twelve years in Paris, Copley began making drawings at a rapid pace, sketching every day and frequently drawing for days and weeks on end. His goal with this endeavor was not to become a formal draftsman but to work more freely, developing new ideas that would animate his idiosyncratic paintings.

Having switched from oil to fast-drying acrylic paint, Copley would outline figures on canvases with thickly dashed, fragmented lines, a technique clearly developed from drawing. Now drawing avidly, Copley's late-1960s series of paintings such as Ballads and Western Songs featured this drawn brushwork in satires of sexuality and American folklore.

Copley's confidence in drawing had matured by the early 1970s. Two new series of work highlighted drawing: Nouns and X-Rated. The former was comprised of "ridiculous images,” Copley's phrase for ordinary objects, and the latter offered charcoal-on-paper versions of his large-scale riffs on pornography and eroticism. These X-Rated drawings cap off William N. Copley: Drawings (1962 – 1973), showing in one setting this prodigious period where Copley discovered drawing.

William N. Copley, (1919 - 1996), known by his signature name CPLY, (pronounced 'see-ply'), was a painter, writer, gallerist, art patron, publisher, and art entrepreneur. His work is in private and public collections worldwide, such as the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Menil Collection. Copley was the subject of retrospective exhibitions at Stedelijk Museum (1966), Centre Georges Pompidou (1980), and Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden (2012). A self-taught painter, Copley participated in Marcia Tucker's prescient group show "Bad" Painting in 1978, as well as Documenta 5 and Documenta 7 in the 1980s. In spring 2016, the Menil Collection will host a comprehensive retrospective of William N. Copley's work.

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