Jonathan Griffin is a contributing editor for frieze magazine, and also writes for publications including Art Review, The Art Newspaper, CARLA, Art Agenda and Tate Etc. He is currently working on a book about artists’ studio fires (to be published by Paper Monument in Fall 2015) and a biography of William Copley. Born and raised in the UK, he currently lives in Los Angeles.
Preparing to Live: Roger Brown in California by Jonathan Griffin
La Conchita is hugged by mountains and is as close to the ocean as it is possible for non-millionaires to get anywhere between San Francisco and Mexico. It brought Roger Brown closer to the man he loved, whom he had lost only years before. It was the place in which he chose to draw closer to death, in an imperfect paradise of his own devising.
The Surrealist Bungalow: William N. Copley and the Copley Galleries (1948-49) by Jonathan Griffin
“No one in their right mind would have considered trying to open a Surrealist gallery in the California environment, which, of course, is what we decided to do late one whiskied evening,” wrote the artist and collector William Copley. “In the white haze of the morning after, we were both too proud to perish the thought.” It is fortunate for us that they didn’t. The Copley Galleries, founded by Copley and his brother-in-law, operated in Beverly Hills for just six months in 1948 and 1949. It may have been a spectacular failure, but it was also the inadvertent seed of one of the most important collections of Surrealist art in the United States.