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Inside the Art Studio of William N. Copley

A photo of William N. Copley in his art studio


Our Studio Sunday featured artist this week is William N. Copley. The adopted son of a newspaper tycoon, Copley became an artist after returning from combat in World War II. The artist was introduced to surrealism by a family friend in the mid-1940s, and fell in love with the art form, opening a short-lived set of galleries dedicated to surrealism, and collecting many important works. Copley’s own career as a painter lasted through the latter-half of the 20th century, and he became known for post-surrealist works using figurative imagery and a bright, naive style. 


Copley is pictured here sitting with some of his paintings. The overall tone of the shot is intimate, and while one can’t see much of the surrounding space, it seems small, almost cramped, much more like a studio nook in one’s home than the larger, more industrial-looking art spaces that are commonly seen in the 21st century. That said, the far wall of this space also makes it look almost cave-like, similar to the studio of Lucio Fontana.


The artist looks quite cheerful in this and many other photos of him -- despite the failing of his early ventures as a gallerist, there’s a clear appreciation for surrealist painting written on his face that seems unrelated to profitability. During the early part of his career, Copley met such surrealist greats as Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, showing and collecting their works. As an artist, Copley was regarded as a precursor to the pop art of the 1960s and onward, with his works shown and collected in the United States and Europe.

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About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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