William and Noma Copley Foundation

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William Nelson Copley (1919-1996) was a Surrealist painter, art collector, and philanthropist. Noma Ratner Copley (1916-2006) was a fine art jewelry designer and art collector. She was introduced to William Copley by their mutual friend Man Ray in 1951. They married in 1953 and resided in France until 1962, when they moved to New York.

In 1954, they began the William and Noma Copley Foundation (renamed the Cassandra Foundation in 1966), which was incorporated in Chicago as a nonprofit organization. Its mission was to aid and encourage emerging artists in the fields of painting, sculpture and music composition. Grants were awarded by a board of directors based on nominations made by advisers, including Jean Arp, Alfred Barr, Jr., Matta Echaurren, Max Ernst, Julien Levy, William Lieberman, Man Ray, Roland Penrose and Sir Herbert Read. The officers and directors were William Copley, Noma Copley, Marcel Duchamp, Barnet Hodes, Eleanor Hodes and Darius Milhaud. Music and art award responsibilities were divided between husband and wife. Noma Copley was chiefly responsible for music grants and collaborated with Milhaud, while William Copley generally made the final decisions on the visual art grants.

The Foundation also published a series of monographs from 1960 to 1966 to highlight their grantees. The British Pop artist Richard Hamilton was chosen as editor, not only for his well-known talents in layout and design, but also for the respect given him by the international art community as one of Duchamp's protégés. A total of 10 monographs were published on Hans Bellmer, Richard Lindner, Bernard Pfriem, René Magritte, Thomas Albert Sills, Eduardo Paolozzi, James Metcalf, Serge Charchoune, Jacques Hérold and Dieter Roth.

After William Copley decided to distance himself from philanthropy and focus his activities back on his own art, Barnet Hodes assumed his responsibilities at the Foundation in 1966. William and Noma Copley divorced in 1967, and William Copley continued his career as a Surrealist artist. He sold much of the art collection at auctions in 1979 and 1993 and died in Florida in 1996. Noma Copley pursued a career in goldsmithing and fine art jewelry after their divorce. She died in New York in 2006.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf William and Noma Copley foundation and collection records, 1954-1980 Getty Research Institute
referencedIn Marcia Tucker papers, 1918-2007, bulk 1957-2005 Getty Research Institute
referencedIn William and Noma Copley Foundation. Institutional file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Arp, Jean, 1887-1966. person
associatedWith Baj, Enrico, 1924- person
associatedWith Bellmer, Hans, 1902-1975. person
associatedWith Cage, John person
associatedWith Celmins, Vija, 1938- person
associatedWith Charchoune, Serge, 1888-1975 person
associatedWith Chryssa, 1933- person
foundedBy Copley, Noma person
foundedBy Copley, William Nelson, 1919-1996 person
associatedWith Delvaux, Paul person
associatedWith De Maria, Walter, 1935- person
associatedWith Ernst, Max, 1891-1976 person
associatedWith Flavin, Dan, 1933-1996. person
associatedWith Glanville-Hicks, Peggy person
associatedWith Hamilton, Richard, 1922-2011. person
associatedWith Hérold, Jacques, 1910- person
associatedWith Jones, Charles, 1910-1997. person
associatedWith Kelkel, Manfred. person
associatedWith Lam, Wifredo person
associatedWith Man Ray, 1890-1976. person
associatedWith Mason, Raymond, 1922- person
associatedWith Matta Echaurren, Roberto Sebastián, 1911- person
associatedWith Matta Echaurren, Roberto Sebastián, 1912-2002. person
associatedWith Metcalf, James, 1925- person
associatedWith Milhaud, Darius, 1892-1974. person
associatedWith Petlin, Irving, 1934- person
associatedWith Pfriem, Bernard, 1914- person
associatedWith Roth, Dieter, 1930- person
associatedWith Sage, Kay person
associatedWith Tajiri, Shinkichi, 1923-2009. person
associatedWith Tanguy, Yves, 1900-1955 person
associatedWith Tanning, Dorothea, 1910-2012. person
associatedWith Turner, Charles, 1921- person
associatedWith Waldberg, Patrick. person
associatedWith Westermann, H. C. (Horace Clifford), 1922- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Chicago IL US
Art, Modern
Publishers and publishing

Corporate Body

Establishment 1954



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