John Coplans is known for his series of black and white self-portraits which are a frank study of the naked, aging body. He photographed his body from the base of his foot to the wrinkles on his hand. As he never photographed his face, his images are not focused on a specific man or identity.
He emigrated to the United States in 1960 and had many exhibitions in Europe and North America. He was on the editorial staff of Artforum from 1962 to 1971, and was Editor-in-Chief from 1972 to 1977. He also was director of several museums including the Akron Art Museum, Ohio. In 1980 he moved to New York, and refocused his work on photography.