Last Friday I visited the Dennis Hopper photography exhibition at the Royal Academy and it was just like taking a step 50 years back into the whirlwind of the swinging sixties.
Powerful quotes encompass the images as you move around the exhibition with Hopper’s strong statement outlining the theme of the exhibition upon entering the space, ‘I never made a cent from these photos. They cost me money but kept me alive.’ It’s not hard to understand why he thrived off this energy either, as he captured the real force of this era gone by.
As a decade of history I personally find fascinating in the states, from the civil rights movement to the art of the time, it was a period of change and Hopper snapshotted this unrest in his images. He explored different groups in the sixties and from the hippies to Hell’s Angels, the stereotypes of the 60s are reincarnated in this mesmerising exhibition.
Alongside the images the films Easy Rider (1969) and The Last Movie (1971) are screened, and it’s easy to get a sense of America as the dreamland. It was and still is a country of conflicts, but in these films the tension melts away to reveal an ‘easy’ America.
Why the lost album? When Hopper was living in New Mexico he had the intention of burning the photographs, so an art curator friend rescued the photographs. When this friend died in 2005, his widow sent them back to Hopper who stored them away in a cupboard. The images were not then seen until 2012 at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau. Fortunately they are on show today and Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Brian Jones, Jane Fonda and Robert Rauschenburg, but to name a few, are all featured in the images as part of the portal to these past times.
The show is running until October 19th and as Hopper’s first London UK photography exhibition, it’s well worth a visit.
More information can be found here: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/dennis-hopper