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William Nelson Copley was an American painter. William Nelson Copley was born in New York City in the year 1919. Copley attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Copley entered the world of art as a patron, not an artist. Copley opened a gallery in 1947 to display artists of the Surrealist movement. Some artists shown at his gallery include Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, and Joseph Cornell.

The gallery only lasted one year before closing due to lack of sales. But as a result Copley became interested in painting and drawing himself.

After closing the gallery Copley moved to Paris, France. Whilst in Europe he continued to learn about painting and developed a style that included elements of folk art and Surrealism. Later in his career he would work with the nude figure.

Copley exhibited his work and gained a following in Europe.

The artist often worked with acrylics. In addition he worked with crayon, ink, watercolor, charcoal, and was an avid printmaker.

Price range information: Works range from $20,000 to $200,000.

William Nelson Copley passed away in 1996.

What an interesting style of art, especially his series on the nude figure. Copley’s work has an element of folk art in it, his drawing skills were not as good as Henry Darger but far better than Clementine Hunter.

His compositions with multiple figures were interesting for the way he juxtaposed the subjects on the canvas, and the way he cropped their bodies to show an interesting body curve. This reminds me of the photographer Ruth Bernhard.