Composition with Jeans

John Copnall

1928 - 2007

Composition with Jeans

John Copnall was born in Slinfold, Sussex, son of sculptor Bainbridge Copnall, in February 1928. He studied at the Architectural Association in the early 1940s before serving his National Service in the Army. On returning from the Army, Copnall briefly studied painting with his father at the Sir John Cass College, before enrolling at the Royal Academy in 1949 under the tutorage of Henry Rushbury.

Copnall's early work was very much in the figurative style of the day, but towards the end of his time at the RA he began to become aware of the exciting developments happening within the American art scene. This coincided with a trip Copnall made to Spain with fellow student Bert Flugelman, when they hitch-hiked down to Barcelona. The plan was to stay for a month, but the Spanish landscape had such a profound effect on Copnall that he ended up staying until 1968.

Flugelman returned to London and Copnall found a small farmhouse just outside what was then the tiny village of Benalmadena, Andalucia, where, inspired by a combination of his interest in Abstract Expressionism and the dramatic Spanish landscape, he began a series of powerful abstract paintings.

After returning to London, he taught for many years at the Central School of Art & Design and was a visiting lecturer at Canterbury College of Art. He was elected a member of The London Group in 1989.

1928 Born 16th February
1945-46 Architectural Association, London
1946-48 Army National Service
1949-54 Royal Academy Schools, London
1955-68 Lived and worked in Spain
1973-93 Teaching at Central School of Art & Design
1989 Elected member of The London Group

Selected Solo Exhibitions
1955 Piccadilly Gallery, London
1956 Sala Vayreda, Barcelona
1956 Piccadilly Gallery, London
1957 Galerie Wolfgang Gurlitt, Munich
1957 Galerie Boiserée, Cologne
1957 Univera-Haus, Nuremberg
1958 Institut fur Auslandbezienhungen, Stuttgart
1958 Piccadilly Gallery, London
1960 Stone Gallery, Newcastle
1961 Piccadilly Gallery, London
1969 Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford
1972 Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
1973 Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
1973 Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh
1974 Prudhoe Gallery, London
1974 Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, Aberdeen
1979 Galerie Morner, Stockholm
1983 Oxford Gallery, Oxford
1986 Windsor Art Centre, Windsor
1989 Austin/Desmond Fine Art, London
1996 Reed's Wharf Gallery, London
1996 De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea

Selected Public Collections
Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museum; Arts Council of Great Britain;
Bristol University; Chelsea & Westminster Hospital; County
Collection of Hertfordshire; York University; St. John's College,
Oxford; St. Mary's College, Twickenham; Nuffield Foundation;
Ateneum Museum, Helsinki, Finland; Sara Hildred Foundation
Museum,Tampere, Finland

Private Collections
Australia, Eire, England, Finland, France, Germany, Scotland, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland and USA


mixed media and collage on board130 x 150 cm (51 x 59 ins)
Framed size: 131 x 151 cm (52 x 59 ins)

signed and dated 1967-68 verso


Private Collection, circa 1969 - 2017


Oxford, Bear Lane Gallery 1 - 22 February 1969, John Copnall, cat 6


Bear Lane Gallery (illustrated catalogue cover)

Gallery Notes:

Copnall had already experimented with the prevailing European trends of Art Informel and Pintura Materica where non artistic materials were incorporated into the composition. The use of a pair of jeans confers a more modern and urban essence than traditional canvas collage.