Before being known as Alcopley the artist, he was Alfred L. Copley, the scientist, and in both careers, he was an innovative creator. After receiving two medical degrees, Copley pioneered the science of biorheology, the flow properties of all biological matter, and hemorheology, which investigates the structured flow of blood. It is partially through this knowledge of his scientific endeavors that allows a richer understanding of his aesthetic accomplishments. Much like his scientific investigations, through painting he believed he could “show meaning in movements of structures in space.” As Alcopley the artist he was an active member of the New York School and participated in the ground breaking 9th Street Show in 1951. Having shown mainly in Europe and Asia during the 1950s and 60s he has not received the kind of exposure in the United States that many of his friends and colleagues have.
Rhythm, or flow, is essential in Alcopley’s aim to give form to his felt experiences. He does so with a gestural immediacy, in what Herman Cherry, the painter, poet, and longtime friend, describes as “nerve sensations made visible.” Carrying sketchbooks around with him everywhere and transcribing his experience in his own unique short hand allowed him enough preparation to take his brush to canvas, paper, and linen. He was particularly interested in the experience of music and its translation into visual form, much like Wassily Kandinsky whom he had an intimate familiarity with, growing up in Dresden, Germany at the turn of the twentieth century.
Abstract Expressionism and Segue into the 1960s, Alcopley: 1950 – 1965, Selections in Oil, Watercolor, and Ink will be presented December 15, 2017 through January 20, 2018 with an opening reception on Friday, December 15, 2017 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm at the David Richard Gallery’s newly renovated Santa Fe location at 1570 Pacheco Street, Suite E2, Santa Fe, NM 87505, P: (505) 983 – 9555. There will be a gallery discussion of Abstract Expressionism and Segue into the 1960s with Una Dora Copley and Scott Jeffries (daughter and son-in-law, respectively, of the artist), moderated by Kathryn M Davis of ArtBeat Santa Fe on December 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm. A digital catalogue will be available online. In addition to this solo exhibition by Alcopley, the presentation, Abstract Expressionism and Segue into the 1960s, also includes a solo exhibition of paintings by artist Nina Tryggvadottir who was married to Alcopley.
Alcopley was born in Dresden, Germany in 1910 and exposed to vibrant avant-garde movements in his youth such as Der Blaue Reiter and Die Brücke. In1930 he attended medical school, interested in pursuing psychoanalysis, and then received his MD from the University of Heidelberg in 1935. It was here that Alcopley witnessed the rise of Hitler and the intolerance of intellectual pursuit, leading him to join the resistance and begin smuggling books out of the city. In 1936, on the verge of arrest, he fled Germany for Switzerland where he received his second MD and befriended many of the Dadaists. The following year Alcopley left for the United States and subsequently began pursuing his artistic career on equal ground as his scientific one, exhibiting his paintings for the first time. In 1942 Alcopley became part of the group of artists known as the New York School and later was a co-founder of The Club, a venue for weekly debates and discussions about art, frequented by critic Clement Greenberg and director of MoMA, Alfred H. Barr. In 1951 he exhibited in the historic Ninth Street Show, hung by Leo Castelli, alongside Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, and Franz Kline. After marrying the Icelandic painter Nina Tryggvadottir, the two lived in both Paris and London before returning to New York in the 1960s.
Alcopley’s work resides in prestigious collections internationally, such as: Museum of Modern Art, NY; Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Seattle Art Museum, WA; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Musee d’Art ed d’Industrie, Saint-Etienne; Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kupferstich-Kabinett, Dresden; National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.