Monday, 30 June 2014

Dennis Hopper at the Royal Academy of Arts

This summer the Royal Academy of  Arts 
presents an exhibition that takes you 
from London's Mayfair to the heart of America's '60s.  

More than 400 original photographs taken by Dennis Hopper, 
the American actor and filmmaker, 
famous for directing and starring in Easy Rider 
and for his roles in Apocalypse now and Blue Velvet. 

A Mum in London
Double Standard, 1961
©Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust

The Story of the Lost Album 

It was James Dean who suggested to Dennis Hopper 
to take up photography. 

Dennis Hopper, a man of 'all or nothing', 
took his advice and produced 18.000 photos  
in the course of seven years, from 1961 to 1967.  

And then he never took another picture.

Hopper selected those 400 photos himself 
for his first exhibition in Texas in 1970.

This is when they were last seen. 

A Mum in London
Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964
©Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust

Forty year later, after his death in 2010, 
his family found boxes full of photographs 
next to the Christmas decorations in Hopper's basement, 
as we were told by one of the curators at the exhibition's preview. 

It was the 'Lost Album'.

An amazing documentation 
of the wildest and most exciting periods of the modern era. 

The '60s in America. 

A Mum in London
Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and Jeff Goodman, 1963 
©Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust

America through Hopper's Lens 

"I wanted to document something. 
I wanted to leave something that I thought would be a record of it",
said Hopper about his photographs. 

He managed to capture the essence of the '60s, 
from hippies to Hells Angels 
and from Hollywood celebrities to rock stars.

You'll see Martin Luther King at a rally, 
Andy Warhol and his gang in the Factory, 
rock bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, 
a young and very handsome Paul Newman sunbathing.

Ordinary scenes from life in the '60s. 
Famous artists. Riots. Angry bikers. 
Glamorous stars. Hippie gatherings. 

"Art is everywhere", said Hopper.

A Mum in London
Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim at their Wedding in Las Vegas, 1965
©Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust

A review...

The Lost Album is one of those exhibitions
that sticks to you.

Maybe because some of the prints are very powerful,
like the Hells Angels ones.

Maybe because you recognise so many faces
or because you have seen similar scenes in films.

Maybe because it's just a quick trip back in time.

And, although the prints are rather small and with the scratches of time, 
I can't think of a better way to catch a glimpse of this amazing time. 

In a nutshell: a history lesson in photos, not to miss.

The Lost Album exhibition, from 26 June to 19 October, Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens.
Admission £11.50.

Many thanks to the Royal Academy of Arts for the preview. 

All photos courtesy of The Hopper Art Trust


  1. This looks awesome, and I'll bet it will be a very popular exhibition. Dennis Hopper was a great actor!

  2. That sounds like a fantastic exhibition... I will tell my photographer friends at home...

    1. It is very interesting, I think your friends will enjoy it!


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