Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album at The Royal Academy

by Cass Art

When you think of Dennis Hopper, most of us will picture him in the 1969 road film Easy Rider, astride a Harley Davidson motorbike and in search of freedom.

But few people know that the late Blue Velvet and True Romance actor also pursued a career as a successful artist and photographer.

Between 1961 and 1967, Hopper obsessively shot around 10,000 images, using high-speed black-and-white film and natural light. Over 400 of those images, hand-picked by Hopper himself, have arrived at The Royal Academy of Arts this summer, in the exhibition The Lost Album.

The collection, which is curated by Petra Gilroy-Hirtz, was first showcased in 1970 but is exhibiting at the RA until 19th October.

The images tell the story of the changing world of the 1960s, blending images of violence, huge social upheaval and considerable technological progress through Hopper's extraordinary eye.

Dennis Hopper 

The decade also coincided with some of the most productive periods of Hopper's illustrious acting career. As well as starring in Apocolypse Now, Hopper photographed trends synonymous with the time - Civil Rights campaigners, hippies, Hell's Angels, and Harlem's street life. In addition, he captured the US west and east coasts' urban landscapes, and several celebrities including Paul Newman, Jane Fonda and Andy Warhol. 

The exhibition hosts images of several other household names from the worlds of film, fashion, music and art. Combined, his work creates an intriguing photographic diary of one specific era in the US, each natural moment contributing to an intelligent observation of the '60s - the highs, lows and everything in-between.

Hopper's work as a sculptor and artist saw him creating the front cover artwork for Tina and Ike Turners' 1966 hit album River Deep - Mountain High. He often worked in the genres of Photorealism and Abstract Impressionism, and his pieces regularly referenced his film career. 

Hopper, who died in 2010 aged 74, was also a ravenous hoarder of art and was particularly fascinated with pop art. His vast collection included celebrated works by Warhol, Robin Rhode and Damien Hirst.

Dennis Hopper

Feeling inspired?

The Lost Album will be showing at The Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD,  until 19th October 2014.

Admission is £10 or £11.50, with concessions available and under-16s go free.

Opening times are Saturdays-Thursdays 10am-6pm, and Fridays 10am-10pm. 

Image Credits

Image 1 - 

Dennis Hopper

Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964

Photograph, 16.69 x 24.92 cm

The Hopper Art Trust

© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust


Image 2 - 

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

Image 3 -

Dennis Hopper

Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim at Their Wedding in Las Vegas, 1965

Photograph, 17.02 x 24.87 cm

The Hopper Art Trust

© Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust

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