Dennis Hopper – The Lost Album
Vintage Photographs of the 1960s
The exhibition shows a spectacular portfolio of over four hundred vintage photographs taken by Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) in the 1960s. Tucked away in five crates and forgotten, they were discovered after his death. There can be no doubt that these works are those personally selected by Hopper from the wealth of shots he took between 1961 and 1967 for the first major exhibition of his photography. The pictures themselves document how the works were installed in the Fort Worth Art Center Museum, Texas, in 1969 by himself and Henry T. Hopkins, the museum’s director at the time. None of these works have been displayed in Europe before.
The portfolio that has now come to light is a treasure. It consists of small plates, sometimes numbered on the back with brief notes in Hopper’s hand and showing traces of wear. Mounted on cardboard, without frame of glass, they were attached directly to the wall and kept in place by small strips of wood.
The images have a legendary quality. Spontaneous, intimate, poetic, unabashedly political and keenly observed, they document an exciting epoch, its protagonists and milieus. These photographs reflect the atmosphere of an era, being outstanding testimonials to America’s dynamic cultural scene in the 1960s. On the viewer they exercise an irresistible attraction, bearing him away on a journey into the past, often into his own history.
Many of these pictures are icons, such as the portraits of Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Paul Newman and Jane Fonda. They also cover a wide range of subjects. Dennis Hopper is interested in everything. Wherever he happens to be, whether in Los Angeles, New York, London, Mexico or Peru, he takes in his surroundings with empathy, enthusiasm and intense curiosity. He seeks and savours the “essential moment”, capturing the celebrities and types of his time with the camera: actors, artists, musicians, his family, Hell’s Angels and hippies. He leaves an impressive photographic record of the “street life” of Harlem, of cemeteries in Mexico, and of bullfights in Tijuana. Hopper accompanies Martin Luther King on the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and, in images of great beauty and serenity, he translates Abstract Expressionism from the language of painting into that of photography.
Dennis Hopper, born 1936 in Dodge City, Kansas, died 2010 in Venice, California, is now a cult figure, having distinguished himself as an actor, director, artist, photographer and author. In films such as Easy Rider (1969), The Last Movie (1971) or Out of the Blue (1980) he appeared as an actor. In two of them he also directed.
As a collector, Dennis Hopper played an influential role in Los Angeles’ youthful art scene as represented by Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Larry Bell or Wallace Berman. This made him a link between the Californian avant garde and Hollywood’s film world. He was also a photographer, taking thousands of pictures in the relatively brief period between 1961 and 1967.
The exhibition catalogue is published by Prestel Verlag.
“Dennis Hopper, The Lost Album. Vintage Photographs of the 1960s”, by Petra Giloy-Hirtz with a preface by Gereon Sievernich and texts by Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward.
Exhibition price € 24
Retail price € 49.95 (ISBN 978-3-7913-524-6)
Organizer Berliner Festspiele. An exhibition of the Martin-Gropius-Bau in association with the Dennis Hopper Trust.
Curator Petra Giloy-Hirtz