Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album

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Words by Billie Jenkins Images Copyright of Dennis Hopper

’Don’t you fucking look at me!’. The violent, gas-guzzling rapist of David Lynch’s most revered film, Blue Velvet, was a character that stayed in my head long after the credits had run. This was my Dennis Hopper. For others it will be the trippy straights of Easy Rider, or the psychosis of his war journalist in Apocalypse Now. Hopper was not an actor built for Rom-Coms. The mind of a man who could so frequently put himself in the shoes of those with such violent troubles in front of the lens, it turns out was also one that made a great artist behind the lens. The RA’s recent show, which runs until 19th October, celebrates this talent with their exhibition The Lost Album, comprising over 400 photographs selected by Hopper as his favourites before his death.

Found in Hopper’s home by his daughter, Marin, the images cover 1961-1969, and in her words “feel like you’ve travelled in a time capsule of America”. Using a Nikon F, Hopper took over 18,000 photographs in his lifetime, and many say he wanted to be remembered as much for his art on paper as on screen. Yet Marin was not even aware the images were in the house until she found them, and brought them back out for the world to see. The resounding feel of the photography in the show is that they are just so sixties, and so U.S.A.. Portraits prevail, hippy women, and men who look like they stepped out of a cigarette advert (when cigarette adverts were cool). Of course there are famous faces, from Warhol, to Duchamp, to Paul Newman. It is both an incredible and huge collection, which is well worth your time, if anything to find a different Hopper from the ominous Frank Booth.

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