LA & travel diaries of Dennis Hopper are at the Royal Academy

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Dennis Hopper Roy Lichtenstein 1964
Photograph 24.64 x 16.64 cm The Hopper Art Trust. © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust. http://www.dennishopper.com

I saw several photography shows this year (Harry Callahan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï). Most recently, I went with my friend S. to the Royal Academy preview of Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album. Hopper was an actor, director, art collector and an artist. The Royal Academy restages an exhibition held at the Fort Worth Art Centre Museum in 1970, using over 400 photos that were found after Hopper’s death in 2010. The photos were taken in black and white on a Nikon camera utilising Kodak Tri-X film.

The show includes many famous faces from Hollywood to artists. I most enjoyed Hopper’s portraits of artists, often at work, some of which were commissioned by galleries. Women and men are represented, including handsome men – Ed Ruscha particularly stood out to us! The Lost Album is a varied collection comprising photojournalism, documentary work on hippie culture, abstract close ups, and the classic pop pictures of billboards, vitrines, and signs.

As a photographer, Hopper has a spur-of-the-moment style. His characters are posed but not carefully framed, with faces and figures often cut; as a result they retain spontaneity and freshness. I can imagine Hopper taking many shots unprepared. For instance, his bullfights series are made from several consecutive shots. In that sense, Hopper photographs could be his travel diaries, as well as an eyewitness account of 60s culture.

Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album is in Burlington Gardens at the RA until 19 October 2014.

20140628-115332.jpg Top: Ed Ruscha,1964 Bottom: Mexico (Robert Fraser), 1965

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