Dennis Hopper to be Deitch's Debut at LA MOCA


Art reporter Lindsay Pollock (one of our Twitter Followables) posted some tasty gossip this morning concerning an upcoming show at Los Angeles MOCA, the first under the forthcoming directorial leadership of New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch. Pollock has a Los Angeles source that puts Dennis Hopper — not Edward, mind you — on the shortlist for LA MOCA’s inaugural show under Deitch, in an effort to incorporate “broad appeal” into the museum’s exhibition schedule. Dennis Hopper, in case you were wondering, is not just an actor but an avid photographer. We’ve got work samples and a Hopper primer after the jump. UPDATE: The exhibition is confirmed, with Julian Schnabel as curator.

The Kansas-born easy rider moved to LA at age eighteen, going on to star in classics like Rebel Without a Cause and Apocalypse Now, as well as cult hits (Blue Velvet, River’s Edge) and blockbusters (Speed). Interested in art from a young age, he lost most of his paintings in a 1961 fire at his Bel Air home, but “had a show of photographs that night and the negatives were saved.” He attempted to get back into painting, but it didn’t stick, so Hopper instead turned to photography and assemblage.

Ike & Tina Turner, 1965. Courtesy Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York.

Between then and 1967, when he made Easy Rider, he took “thousands” of black-and-white photographs with an old Nikon, featured in a book for Taschen (Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967) and a solo exhibition last fall with New York mega-dealer Tony Shafrazi — who also includes other Deitch favorites Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring on his gallery roster. Hopper was also one of four artists featured in a small show at Andrew Roth Gallery, curated by none other than superstar curator Neville Wakefield.

Jane Fonda (with bow & arrow), Malibu, 1965. Courtesy Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York.

Hopper, who counted innumerable artists and Hollywood boldfacers as friends, was also a blue-chip art collector once upon a time, telling Index magazine, “I did have the first Campbell’s Soup painting. It was in the office at Virginia Dwan’s, and I bought it for $75. This is ’62 or ’63.”(As reported this month, Hopper is selling off his collection to pay for mounting health care costs after a serious bout with cancer and acrimonious divorce from his fifth wife.)

Though he’s in poor health, the 74-year-old actor’s most lasting legacy is one of utter hell-raising. Before getting sober in the ’80s, Hopper “was drinking half a gallon of rum and 30 beers a day. The three grams of cocaine he was also ingesting were just so he could keep ‘moving around.’ He had become so delusional that he thought such consumption was okay because ‘I wasn’t crawling around on the floor.'” The antipsychotic drugs he received in rehab caused temporary Parkinson’s disease.

Robert Rauschenberg with his tongue stamped “Wedding Souvenir, Claes Oldenburg,” 1966. Courtesy Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York.

Jasper Johns (contact sheet), 1964. Courtesy Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York. Andy Warhol (with flower), 1963.

Ed Ruscha, 1964. Courtesy Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York.

Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964. Courtesy Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York.