Body Parts: A Self-Portrait by John Coplans features twenty-six large black-and-white photographs from 2001-2002, Coplans’s final series before his death in August 2003. A founding editor of Artforum magazine, Coplans changed careers in 1980, leaving the world of criticism and curating to become a widely exhibited photographer. In 1984, at the age of 64, Coplans began an extended photographic documentation of his own aging body. Coplans’s final series is intimate and direct; each photograph captures isolated body parts, cropped and fragmented; Coplans then reassembled the images into diptychs.
By the end, Coplans’s deteriorating eyesight forced him to establish a new working process. As the artist explained, “The solution was to recognize the fact that we don’t actually see an image with our eyes; instead we perceive it with our minds….when I realized that it was more a matter of perception than of sight, I could easily previsualize an image and make a drawing that my assistance could match on film.”