William Nelson Copley - Baby Bonnet - image-1

Lot 21 D

William Nelson Copley - Baby Bonnet

Auction 1187 - overview Cologne
03.12.2021, 18:00 - Evening Sale - Modern and Contemporary Art
Estimate: 80.000 € - 120.000 €
Result: 100.000 € (incl. premium)

William Nelson Copley

Baby Bonnet

Acrylic on canvas. 146.5 x 114 cm. Signed and dated 'cply 71'. - Traces of studio and minor traces of age.

In the solo exhibition “Recent paintings: Nouns” held in the New York Alexander Iolas Gallery in 1971, William Copley presented a work series featuring large-format everyday objects in front of strongly coloured backgrounds or in abstract spatial situations. He took the motifs - household objects, musical instruments, weapons or articles of clothing - from a 1902 department store catalogue of the company Sears, Roebuck and Co., which still exists today.
The work “Baby Bonnet”, presented in this auction, is also from that series. The motif of a knitted bonnet tied under the chin - originally a lady's model in the catalogue advertisement („Ladies' hoods, hand made."), reinterpreted by Copley as a baby's bonnet - is in an unusually large format set against a magenta-coloured background. The monochrome, albeit slightly marbled colour surface contrasts strongly with the filigree knitted textile, which has a distinctly ornamental quality. The aim of the artist is a spontaneous, unconsidered form of painting. “I have an old Sears Roebuck catalogue and just leaf through it until something strikes me. I get a lot of ideas from the Daily News, too. What I'm trying to get is a new kind of spontaneity. There's very little planning, no sketches, I put everything on canvas immediately and directly. It's really an attempt at non-drawing which turns into another kind of drawing the more you try to eliminate it, the more you change its nature. It has a lot to do with seeing, though. If you think too long, you miss seeing.” (William Copley, quoted in: William N. Copley, exhib.cat. Fondazione Prada 2016, p.174).
With its intense visual presence, “Baby Bonnet” is also an extraordinarily important painting for the artist, as the 1978 edition of the motif as a silkscreen in a series of 200 proofs makes clear.


The present work is registered in the Estate of William N. Copley, New York


Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York (with adhesive label verso); Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich (1997); private collection, Bavaria


Germano Celant (ed.), William N. Copley, The world according to Cply, exhib.cat. The Menil Collection, Houston, Fondazione Prada, Milan 2016, p.175 with colour abb .


Hannover 1995 (Kestner-Gesellschaft), William N. Copley, Bilder, Paintings 1951-1994, exhib.cat. no.48, n.p. with colour ill.
Munich 1981 (Galerie Klewan)
Bern 1980 (Kunsthalle), Paris 1980/1981 (Centre Georges Pompidou), Eindhoven 1981 (Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum), William N. Copley, exhib.cat. no.78 (with adhesive label verso)
Turin 1973 (Galleria d'Arte Il Fauno), CPLY, exhib.cat. n.p. with colour abb. (titled: Bonnet)
New York 1972 (Alexander Iolas Gallery), Mail Order, exhib.cat. n.p. with colour abb. (titled:: Bonnet)