When the world lost the inimitable Dennis Hopper last week, we lost more than just a brilliant actor. Lesser known for his second passion, Hopper was a serious photographer, painter, and art collector (he purchased Andy Warhol's first Soup Can Painting for $75).
After a conflict with a well-known director in the late 1950's, Hopper had trouble finding film work in Hollywood for many years, and was reduced to 1 or 2 - episode appearances in many tv shows for almost 10 years. During this time, he studied film direction and became an avid photographer. His subject matter included political figures and the civil rights movement, as well as shooting for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and taking artists' and actors' portraits. (Self-portrait above, Roy Lichtenstein below).
At $1,000 Taschen's Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967 is a bit out of reach for most of us (although it is a limited edition of 1500, each copy signed by Hopper himself). Hopefully a more affordable edition will be released at some point.
Per Art Forum, Hopper’s art will be the subject of an exhibition planned to open in July at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. I envy those of you who live close enough to see this exhibit!
It was actor Vincent Price who introduced Hopper to modern art when Hopper was only in his late teens. His collection over the years has included works by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Julian Schnabel, Basquiat, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella. Several of these artists were also close personal friends. Hopper was the first owner of one of my personal favorite paintings, Ruscha's "Standard Station". Married 5 times, Hopper lost a large number of his paintings in his first divorce, and later sold others to finance a subsequent divorce.
Hopper's home in the Venice Beach area began life as an artist's studio designed by Frank Gehry, and has been featured in numerous architectural magazines. An austere exterior has earned it the description of a "floodlit fortress", although the interior of the home is sunny and bright. This fantastic video, filmed in 2007, gives us a glimpse at Hopper's extensive collection and the inside of his beautiful home.
Sources: Ace Gallery, The Guardian, CBS Sunday Morning, The Telegraph, Cigar Aficianado