Analysis of Outfigured Artists

Introduction – The outfigured artists

The show presented some artist with proven excellence in drawings that are emotive and sometimes provocative on human characters. Most of the artists in the exhibition dwelt on the human figure that they artistically manipulated to arouse divergent interpretations from different viewers. The artists meant the images to communicate certain message from personal perspectives, some of which were provocative and emotionally invoking. The critical analysis looked into the works of John Coplans and Corvo Brothers, both of which were presented by the curator at the show as outfigured artists.

John Coplan – The outfigured artist

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He was born in 1923 in London where he was educated and started his professional life. Some of his works included teaching at the University of Berkeley, as a senior curator at Pasadena Art Museum between 1967-1970. This interests led him to publish some of the well-acclaimed works such as Serial Imagery and Cezanne Watercolours (Museum of Contemporary Photography, 2011).

His images were mostly in black and white, one of which he photographed himself naked but left his face. This was perhaps he meant to represent whole humanity or a certain race. Most of his works are based on the aging human figure, of which he personally photographed himself. His works are distinct in that they have sexual connotations. He used human parts to signify the genital organs of human beings. On several photos, he used figures to connote male genitals and feet to indicate female genitals. Despite the popularity of youthful portraits, usually women, Coplan chose to use his body of advanced age. This attracted rounded criticism from people that thought the show was way too much for his personality and age. But, his message could be directed to the youth and the aged that aspire to remain “young” forever, to meet the reality that his body represented. He might also have intended his messages to proponents of cosmetic surgery. His images were glaringly disturbing end stirring as to the intention of his nude photographs. This is the reason why he is categorized as an outfigured artist.

Corvo Brothers – The outfigured artists

Marco Corvo is an Italian artist, born in 1966 that also excelled in using human body manipulations to communicate certain messages. The professional life of Marco Convo included film production at the stage, advertising and creative production that used human body manipulations. Like Coplan, the artist used the human body, such as hand to invoke imagination and curiosity (Froyd, 2011). The difference between the bothers and John Coplan is that the latter tended on producing surreal expressions of the human body, specifically hands while the latter used bare and real images of his body. Corvo Brothers used digital manipulations aided by Adobe Photoshop to create digital images that were later printed on special papers, mounted them on panel board before hand-varnishing them. Their images sometimes evoke humor and sometimes surprise. Interpretation of both Corvo Brothers and John Coplan were creepy and horrendous, depending on the beholder.

The motive of the two was inspired by their encounters in professional life. The duo brothers worked in the professional advertising industry that required creativity, originality and well-staged reality to phantasmagoric imagery that aroused quick attention and stirred viewers’ emotions. Coplan was a severe critic of certain works and having started his work at 60, his message and conclusion could not be far from what he portrayed in his nude photographs in the youth-cult of nude, sexy photographs – a trademark of outfigured artists.


Art is a tool for communicating deep feelings of human life. Interpretations from the images are never without contradictions, but regardless of the emotion invoked, observers get to search themselves based on the image. The two artists used human body parts to convey disparate messages to different audiences. Coplan’s works specialized on whole body, fingers, and insteps to express their messages. Corvo combines both real and imagined pictures through digital manipulations to present professional images with different connotations.

List of references

Museum of Contemporary Photography, (2011)  JohnCoplan. Retrieved 9 April 2012, http://www.mocp.org/collections/permanent/coplans_john.php

Froyed, S (2011, November 10) “The Convo brothers  tell all tonight at Walker Fine Art” http://blogs.westword.com/showandtell/2011/11/corvo_brothers_dadaspeak_walke.php

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