Coplans was one of the most influential art critics in America in the 1960s and 1970s, championing Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Donald Judd. In 1971 he was appointed editor of the influential magazine, Artforum and in 1978 he became director of the Akron Art Museum in Ohio.
In the mid 1960s Coplans began taking photographs of his own ageing naked body. The photographs focus on isolated body parts showing them enlarged and close-up, so that they seem at once familiar and unfamiliar. Coplans' monumental images recall classical sculpture, whilst emphasising the relentless progression of the ageing process.