So, in the years before directing and starring in possibly his most iconic film (Easy Rider) Hopper found far more work as a photographer than he did as an actor. The photographs in the Royal Academy’s upcoming exhibition all originate from this period, between 1961 and 1967. During that time Hopper seems to have taken his camera with him everywhere, from parties to political marches.
A surprising amount of Hopper’s early artworks have been lost. The trove of photographs in this exhibition only came to light after his death. Alongside a great many casually posed portraits of friends and strangers, this collection of images reveals Hopper’s affinity with the Pop Art movement. Cars, bars and street signs are regular subjects. He also shot portraits of fellow artists and actors, including Andy Warhol and Jane Fonda.
Hopper was intimately involved with art throughout his life. He amassed a legendary collection, including works by Ed Ruscha and Roy Lichtenstein, and he even commissioned architecture from Frank Gehry. Notoriously, Hopper once owned Warhol’s Chairman Mao, but shot at it in a fit of drug-induced paranoia. The Hollywood-star-inflicted bullet holes are said to have added to the value of the picture when it was sold after Hopper’s death.
Thankfully, Hopper’s photography has more going for it than just celebrity affiliations. This body of work evokes the tumultuous spirit of 1960s American culture. Rather than being the incidental snaps of a celebrity’s travels, Hopper’s photography is a significant counterpoint to his film work.
|What||Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album, Royal Academy|
|Where||Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Piccadilly Circus (underground)|
26 Jun 14 – 19 Oct 14, 10am-6pm Sat-Thurs. 10am-10pm Sun.
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Academy|