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Dennis Hopper/British Folk Art

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:05 am
by Garth Cartwright
I've very little work on this summer so yesterday went wandering around a few London galleries. The Dennis Hopper exhibition has had a heavy media presence, what with him being a recently deceased Hollywood "legend" and these "lost" photos being shown for the first time (and they include a few iconic shots of a young Paul Newman, Andy Warhol and such). Well, the photos are of interest - all taken between 1961-1967 (once he began working on Easy Rider he put his camera down and never picked it up again) and they show images of famous pop artists (Hopper being a collector), Martin Luther King's march from Selma, Alabama (Hopper joined Brando in participating in this Civil Rights march - as he was a lifelong Republican and by all accounts a nasty individual I think he was there to hang out with Brando rather than any empathy with the cause), photos of hippies and San Fran rock bands and a rather wasted looking Brian Jones. Lots of images of Hells Angels. And quite a few shots of graffiti and street scenes and such. He has an eye alright. That said, he's very obviously influenced by Robert Frank's The Americans and Cartier Bresson's street scenes though he is not a match for either (not that the exhibition claims such). There's a homoerotic tinge to certain images especially the bikers who he idealises as contemporary cowboys - a sequence of shots sees bikers holding one of their own down while they strip him and you can imagine Hopper getting very excited by this. For anyone with an interest in b&w photography or Southern California/Mexico in the early 1960s this is worth seeing. Though you might want to save on the entry fee and just glance at the images online as the photos are small and not particularly well presented.

British Folk Art at the Tate Britain is a celebration of what often gets called "naive" art - Alfred Wallis from St Ives is the only name here but there are other good painters and stuff like large and tiny boots that once hung outside a shoemaker's shop and corn dollies and those huge decorative figures that used to be at the front of ships and all kinds of interesting oddities (a rooster built from bone flakes by a French prisoner of war in the 18th Century). I've always liked this stuff and enjoyed the exhibition. Entry is a pricy £14.50 but as there rarely are displays of British folk art in the UK I can recommend whiling a way an hour or so here.

Re: Dennis Hopper/British Folk Art

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:29 am
by Adam Blake
Cheers, Garth. Hopper was a hero of mine when I was a teenager. It was awful to find out he was such a creep, but in hindsight it shouldn't have been a surprise. I still think that "Out Of The Blue" is some kind of masterpiece - although it is unrelentingly vile it is as truthful as a Kurt Cobain song. I can imagine that Hopper was a very good photographer.

Re: Dennis Hopper/British Folk Art

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 1:58 pm
by john poole
He could undoubtedly be nasty before, but I don't think he became a Republican until the 1980s (and he did later support Obama for President).

Re: Dennis Hopper/British Folk Art

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:25 pm
by Adam Blake
"Out Of The Blue" is up on YouTube. Lord... Not for the faint hearted:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeckpoVAj5w

Re: Dennis Hopper/British Folk Art

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:59 pm
by Garth Cartwright
John, I seem to recall when DH supported Obama he said something along the lines of "I've voted Republican all my life but I can't when they want to put that woman (ya know, the really stupid ex-governor of Alaska) in the White House." Considering the way he treated wives and film partners I don't think Dennis ever cared for anyone but himself. But he certainly had talent as an actor and director (even if only briefly) and took a decent photograph.

Adam, I saw OOTB in the 1980s when it first came out. Not sure I need to revisit it but thanks for the reminder. At the museum they are showing Easy Rider and the Last Movie every day.

Re: Dennis Hopper/British Folk Art

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 4:28 pm
by uiwangmike
Some (generally unfavourable) reminiscences about Dennis Hopper by Peter Fonda on a recent R4 Film Programme.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048034f

Re: Dennis Hopper/British Folk Art

PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:49 pm
by Adam Blake
Went to the Hopper exhibition today. Very good photographer. He was in the right place at the right time and he knew when to click the shutter, which sounds easy until you try to do it. I chuckled at him describing himself as a hippy. Yeah right, Dennis! The huge portrait photograph of Hopper that welcomes you to the exhibition makes him look like Charles Manson's meaner older brother... I didn't get a homoerotic vibe off the Hell's Angels pictures, more a kind of hero worship. But I don't get my kicks off bullies and thugs as I suspect he did. It's on till October and worth a visit.