Fondazione Prada and The Menil Collection Co-Publish Comprehensive Exhibition Catalogue
March 15, 2016

The William N. Copley Estate is extremely pleased to announce the publication of a comprehensive exhibition catalogue devoted to the life and work of William N. Copley. Published by Fondazione Prada with The Menil Collection, and edited by curator Germano Celant, the catalogue, titled William N. Copley, accompanies exhibitions at both venues, and will serve as the most extensive resource and primary reference book available on the art and adventures of CPLY.

The book was designed by celebrated Dutch designer Irma Boom and features a tremendous range of illustrations as well as fascinating essays from curators Germano Celant and Toby Kamps, plus terrific art historical essays from Paul B. Franklin, Allison M. Gingeras, Gwen L. Allen, and Jonathan Griffin. Additionally, an exhaustive chronology on Copley’s life is threaded throughout the book, allowing biographic context for his work and a broader historical understanding of the period in which Copley lived.

The William N. Copley Estate is overjoyed that this publication is now available, and we would like to acknowledge the editorial teams at Fondazione Prada and The Menil Collection for their commitment to the project. The book will be available for mailorder and distribution after 3/22/16 from Artbook / D.A.P.


From Fondazione Prada’s Press Release:


Milan, 18 February 2016 – The volume William N. Copley, edited by Germano Celant and published by Fondazione Prada in collaboration with The Menil Collection, accompanies the retrospective exhibition devoted to the American artist which is being hosted at The Menil Collection in Houston from 19 February to 24 July 2016, and in a more extensive format at Fondazione Prada in Milan from October 2016 to January 2017.

William N. Copley (1919–96) embodies the figure of the original, eclectic self-taught artist, thanks to his work as a journalist, editor, art dealer and collector. The two exhibitions, curated by Germano Celant and Toby Kamps, as well as the related catalogue, retrace theentire career of the artist – started in Hollywood in the 1940s, developed in Paris and subsequently spanned across Europe and the United States – and recall the evolution of his style and pictorial experimentation. Inspired by Surrealism, by the cartoon imagery and by American folk culture, the artist explored recurring subjects such as pornography, patriotism, and the unexpected potential of everyday objects with humor and intelligence.

As highlighted by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli in the introduction to the catalogue, “Copley’s career was independent without being isolated, an unconventional bridge spanning two continents. In his artworks, eroticism is at once joyful, irreverent and socially engaged. The skill and irony with which Copley — or CPLY, as he usually signed his works — inserted political messages in pictures that appear at first glance to be just sexual, made him a point of encounter between artistic movements that were geographically and idealistically far from one another, from Surrealism to Pop Art and also to Conceptual Art.”

The scholarly publication, which comprises more than 390 pages and 600 illustrations, is a graphic design project developed by Irma Boom. In addition to the introductions by Fondazione Prada’s presidents and Josef Helfenstein, the volume includes six essays by critics and art historians Germano Celant, Toby Kamps, Jonathan Griffin, Paul B. Franklin, Gwen L. Allen and Alison M. Gingeras, that analyze Copley’s complex figure as an artist, gallerist, collector, writer, journalist and editor. The book is completed by an extensive chronology which relates Copley’s career and biography to the artistic and cultural context of his times.

William N. Copley is part of the extensive editorial project that Fondazione Prada has developed over the past twenty years. The 38 publications edited by the Fondazione since 1995 comprise artist monographs and volumes (from Michael Heizer to Carsten Höller, from Francesco Vezzoli to Nathalie Djurberg), research exhibition catalogues (from The Small Utopia – Ars Multiplicata to Serial Classic), architecture books devoted to, among others, Herzog & de Meuron and OMA/AMO, as well as books related to philosophy and cinema conferences such “La Sfida” and “Tribeca Talks”.  All publications are distributed both in Italy and abroad and can also be purchased from the Fondazione’s online bookshop at the following link:

Press Contacts
Fondazione Prada
T +39 02 56 66 26 34