John Coplans Nancy Hellebrand: Bodies of Experience

November 30–December 18, 1988
Beaver College Art Gallery


The Beaver College Art Gallery is hosting an exhibition of photographs entitled "Bodies of Experience" from November 30 through December 18, 1988 in the Spruance Art Center, located on the campus. An opening reception in honor of the artists, John Coplans and Nancy Hellebrand, will be held on Sunday, December 4 from 3:00-5:00 PM in the Gallery. Immediately preceeding the opening, a special docent's talk and tour of the exhibition will be presented at 2:00 PM as part of the Gallery's expanded educational program.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Coplans will present a lecture about his work on Monday, December 5 at 12:00 PM in the CBS Auditorium, University of the Arts, Broad and Pine Streets, Philadelphia. The lecture is being co-sponsored by Beaver College and the University of the Arts' photography / film department. Admission is free.

"Bodies of Experience" examines an approach to the figure that focuses on extreme specificity of physical detail through a carefully selected group of large and small-scale photographs, (dating from 1985–88), which includes Polaroids, silver prints, and Xerox drawings.

Gallery Director Paula Marincola, who organized the exhibition, stated, "The body is read as a map or record of time's passage so that the past accumulation of experience is manifested in the present — imperfection becomes a descriptive and expressive device."

Coplans photographs are highly sculptural and monumetalized, but they are also motivated by an anarchic sense of humor and self-mockery. All of his images are species of self-portraiture, (he is the only model), that function as open metaphors permitting continually expanding levels of signification.

Living in New York City, Coplans is an internationally recognized photographer who has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. A long-time art critic, he previously served as editor of Artforum prior to turning to photography in the 1970s. His work can be seen in many major museums collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. Coplans is represented by Galerie Lelong in New York.

Hellebrand's intense concentration on various sections of the anatomy of a variety of physical types paradoxically moves her images toward abstraction. Sections of the thigh, breast, or neck fill the field simultaneously as figure and ground in a delicate union of texture, light, and shadow. Her scrutiny of the body is almost topographical — the human figure as a kind of landscape.

Hellebrand, who lives in Philadelphia, also is a photographer of national note. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Photography Fellowship. Her work has been nationally exhibited in major shows and is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others. Hellebrand is represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York.