Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album – reviews of photo show

Jul 2, 2014

'Superb' photo show reveals Hopper's self-taught brilliance and quest for creative freedom

The Hopper Art Trust © Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust.
What you need to know

A new exhibition of photographs by Dennis Hopper has opened at the Royal Academy, London. Hopper, best-known as the late Hollywood actor who appeared in Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet and Speed, was also a photographer and artist throughout his acting career.

This exhibition brings together over 400 vintage prints of photographs Hopper took during the 1960s and selected for his first major exhibition in 1970. The images, only rediscovered after his death in 2010, include pictures of Hells Angels, hippies, Harlem street life and the Civil Rights movement as well as stars of art, fashion and music, including Andy Warhol and Paul Newman. Runs until 19 October.

What the critics like

This inspired exhibition shows Hopper in a markedly different light to his manic screen presence, defusing the darkness of his roles into images that are "sympathetic, sensitive and sensual", says Christian House in the Daily Telegraph. Exhibited at eye-level in one extended, celluloid-like strip, the modestly sized vintage prints invite the viewer to stop and peer in rather than move along.

"This superb show reveals his self-taught brilliance as a photographer," says Sue Steward in the Evening Standard. It mingles pictures of celebrities with photojournalistic scenes of everyday life and abstract images, which still seem so fresh and cool today.

"Exhibited in Britain for the first time, this belated debut marks Dennis Hopper's place in the history of photography," says Eleanor MacFarlane on The Upcoming. Hopper had an unerring sense of what makes a good composition leaving us with a great feel for his endless quest for creative freedom and expression.

What they don't like

Hopper's weirdness sometimes "thrust itself into the lens" in his creepy shots of dolls and mannequins, "a somehow unnatural extension of his all-American passion for airbrushed lovelies on billboards", says Jasper Rees on the Arts Desk. But he seems to have outgrown a young man's interest in persuading women to take their clothes off and, ultimately, this trip to the Sixties reveals a surprisingly humane Hopper.

Photo credit:

Dennis Hopper
Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and Jeff Goodman, 1963
Photograph, 17.25 x 24.74 cm
The Hopper Art Trust
© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust.

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