Week 44 - 2015

Grandfather body

© John Coplans , Self Portrait (Side View, Bent), 1985. Preus museum's collection.

Grandfather body

When John Coplans (1920-2003) began taking photographs in the mid-1980s he chose his own naked, aging body as motif. He took up photography after a long career as author, editor, and museum director.


A series of black-and-white images shows his own body in various positions, a mapping of the body, hands, back, knees, legs, and feet. Throughout his pictures one sees the body's movement. In addition the face is omitted.  


Thus the images represent a universal masculine body rather than a defined identity. Coplans is 65 in the picture, and by photographing his body in the autumn of his life he breaks with conventional youthful beauty. He confronts the viewer with questions about ageing and deterioration, themes often ignored today. The closest we come now is perhaps the debate about the Dadbod.


You can see a series of Coplans's self-portraits in the Preus Museum's collection exhibition.