Billy Copley

TITLE: Bag #21

ARTIST: Billy Copley (American, b.1946)


CATEGORY: Mixed Media

MATERIALS: Acrylic on prepared collage paper

SIZE: h: 29 x w: 23 in / h: 73.7 x w: 58.4 cm

STYLE: Contemporary

PRICE*: Contact Gallery for Price

GALLERY: Susan L. Halper Fine Art Inc.  (212)473-7166  Send Email

Billy Copley first came to the attention of the art world in 1972 when he was one of ten artists selected for the exhibition, “Ten Young Artists, Theodoron Awards at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

He is known for his exhuberant works of skillfully collaged paper which explode with color, energy and a host of diverse imagery. Cartoons culled from a variety of sources intertwine with English and Japanese letters and phrases. Patterns of plaids, benday dots, found and handmade rubber stamps, skulls and skeletons add color and rhythm while a faint grid , embedded in the paper, holds the pictures together. One thinks of the 70s pattern-painting, combined with English wallpaper and the Mexican festival of the Day of the Dead. Technically the papers are so skillfully blended that one has to look closely to see the subtle layering.

Inherent in Copley’s work is an understanding of Art history that began in Los Angeles at an early age. He grew up in an artistic atmosphere with Surrealism the dominant focus. His father owned a gallery in l948 in which many surrealist works were seen in this country for the first time.

Surrealist dream imagery combined with the California locale and Disney animation were among his early influences. Later at the Chouinard Art School and in New York, he encountered the work of Wallace Berman, Ed Kienholz and Ed Ruscha. The introduction of comics by Roy Lichtenstein and the collaged styles of James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselman added another important element.

In these early years of the twenty-first century, when images from popular culture both old and new invade every aspect of our lives, Billy Copley’s papercollages appear genuine and grounded in the world around us.

Copley has exhibited his work at galleries in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta as well as in France and Italy. His work is in many collections including: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY, The Hirschhorn Museum , Washington, D.C., The Walt Disney Company, New York, and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, New York.

The figures are drawn from the pantheon of children in the rather mainstream " outsider artist" Henry Darger's work. 

© Susan L. Halper Fine Art, Inc. 2020