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Reflection on a Past Life

Walther König, Köln
Artists' Books
Contemporary Art, Art History, Memoir

Originally written in 1976 for his Paris–New York exhibition, Reflection on a Past Life is painter William N. Copley’s (1919–1996) humorous and insightful account of his many bizarre encounters with key Surrealists, such as Man Ray, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp and René Magritte. After inheriting a fortune as a young man, Copley (often known as “CPLY”), used his family wealth to open The Copley Galleries in Beverly Hills shortly after World War II, where he exhibited works by major Surrealist artists. Although the gallery proved to be a financial flop, closing after its first year, Copley secured a place in the annals of art history by bringing Surrealism to Hollywood, as well as with his own painting. This memoir provides a revealing and intimate look at the work and thought processes of Copley’s heroes from the frank, engaging perspective of a younger colleague.


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