DENNIS HOPPER WAS BETTER AT TAKING PHOTOS THAN I'LL EVER BE AT ANYTHING
The late actor painted a stirring portrait of beat-era America
BY REUBEN BRODY
As an actor, Dennis Hopper’s ability to go from raving lunatic (Blue Velvet) to passionate loser (Hoosiers) to lovable idiot (Cool Hand Luke) really came down to one asset: his eyes.
The very same eyes, it bears noting, that made him an accomplished amateur photographer.
He took it up as a hobby, but quickly realized (or was told) that he wasn’t just pointing and clicking: he was making gallery-worthy compositions imbued with humanity, grace and style.
A new exhibition at the Kohn Gallery in L.A. will reexamine Hopper's first photography exhibit, Fort Worth (c. 1970). The reboot is called The Lost Album, and features some of the images from that show alongside rare images from the same era. It’s curated by Claudia Bohn-Spector and Sam Mellon of MICRONAUT, and aided by access to the Hopper Art Trust.
Some of the photos are historically significant, like the ones taken at the march at Selma with Martin Luther King or the study of beat-era bikers. Others are celebrity portraits: Andy Warhol, Ike and Tina Turner, Paul Newman, Ed Ruscha. There’s so much to learn from Hopper’s portrayal of the era: the innocence, the hardship, the simpler way of life.
If you find yourself in L.A., the show will be at Kohn Gallery until early September. You can also check out an exclusive sneak preview of the exhibit by browsing the slideshow below.