John Coplans

Self-Portrait (Interlocking Fingers, No. 18)
2000

Not on view

Date
2000

Classification
Photographs

Medium
Gelatin silver print mounted on board

Dimensions
Image: 31 1/8 × 24in. (79.1 × 61 cm) Mount (board): 33 1/8 × 26 1/16in. (84.1 × 66.2 cm)

Accession number
2000.98

Edition
2/6

Credit line
Purchase, with funds from Ann and Steven Ames

Rights and reproductions
© John Coplans Trust

In a series of photographs that includes Self-Portrait (Interlocking Fingers, No. 18), John Coplans offers detailed investigations of his hands. Rather than enhance his appearance as one normally expects of portraiture, Coplans here—and in other photographs of his octogenarian body—presents unexpurgated images of advancing age and physical realism. Emphasizing details such as the lines on his hands and the ridges on his fingernails, he contorts his fingers into positions that suggest emotional states, from clenched in distress to clasped in hope or solidarity. These unidealized, close-up views of the body force us to confront themes of human frailty, the transformation of aging, and mortality. Indeed, Coplans never revealed his face in any of his self-portrait images and considered his work to be about “an investigation into myself and the universal.”  



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