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Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967
October 29, 2009 2:17 PM   Subscribe

“I started firing my machinegun. Then I passed out. Walter came crawling up the stairs and hid all my guns under his bed. When he left in the morning he took all my negatives for safekeeping.

Between 1961, when the 25-year-old Hopper married the actress Brooke Hayward, until 1967, when he made Easy Rider, he took thousands of black-and-white photographs. He seemed to have his Nikon with him all the time, on sets, in galleries, at recording sessions. Now a selection of those wonderful, evocative photographs, many of them never seen before, is to be published in a limited-edition book, Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967.
posted by acro (30 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Did you mean for a Wikipedia article to be your main link in this FPP? I cannot find the source for that pullquote anywhere in that page.
posted by hippybear at 2:33 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


The wiki link wasn't really needed at all, but the article and pictures are interesting.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:34 PM on October 29, 2009


That little sidewalk self-portrait atop the Times page is terrific, and captures just about everything Hopper in one shot.

And thanks to the fact the Times's web guys apparently don't know how images work, it's also actually right there in a larger size to haunt my nightmares forever.
posted by rokusan at 2:51 PM on October 29, 2009


I'm torn about compilations of photography that include lengthy essays. Part of me wishes they'd shut up and get on with the photos, and part of me enjoys the detailed backgrounds into the setting and ideas behind the photos.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:53 PM on October 29, 2009


part of me enjoys the detailed backgrounds into the setting and ideas behind the photos.

If I'm doing my math right, that should run to about a thousand words of exposition per photo!
posted by hippybear at 3:08 PM on October 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


self-portrait atop the Times page
Herringbone!
posted by tellurian at 3:22 PM on October 29, 2009


Between 1961, when the 25-year-old Hopper married the actress Brooke Hayward, until 1967, when he made Easy Rider...

So he... he was over 30?
posted by hal9k at 3:55 PM on October 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm torn about compilations of photography that include lengthy essays. Part of me wishes they'd shut up and get on with the photos, and part of me enjoys the detailed backgrounds into the setting and ideas behind the photos.

Never trust photographs surrounded by explanatory text.
posted by fire&wings at 4:24 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Er, good thing that is on the web as it's discounted price of $560 would ensure that few will ever see his shots.
posted by well_balanced at 4:29 PM on October 29, 2009


Man I hate that kind of interface. That's one of the worst examples of it I've seen.
posted by Artw at 4:40 PM on October 29, 2009


is the point of teh pull quote to establish that hopper was even crazier than everyone thought he was?

whether he had a good eye or just shot so much that there had to be good stuff in there somewhere, there is in fact some interesting stuff in that book. though i agree w/ artw that the UI is super-annoying.
posted by lodurr at 4:59 PM on October 29, 2009


His photographic style definitely fits with his "collector" leaning personality trait.
posted by stratastar at 5:28 PM on October 29, 2009


I totally agree with you guys, Artw and lodurr. Dennis really seems like the guy to work all the angles, not necessarily working to be the best at any one thing, but to get SOMETHING out there. Googling to see if he tried his hand with music and I don't see any. TOTALLY surprised by that.
posted by snsranch at 5:28 PM on October 29, 2009


Eh, I take that back. Clearly he focused primarily on acting. Some of these photos are really damn good.
posted by snsranch at 5:31 PM on October 29, 2009


Hopper was mentioned recently in this NY Times review of James Rosenquist's biography. Mr. Rosenquist is a friend and neighbor, so I'm pleased to not break any rules, here in the comment zone.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:39 PM on October 29, 2009


Despite being famous as an actor and director, Hopper sees himself primarily as an artist, and is an accomplished and much-respected painter...
Quite frankly, his painting is not that good. Were the same paintings made by someone who was not a famous actor and director, they would not see the light of day, at least not for very long.
posted by allelopath at 6:07 PM on October 29, 2009


During the last five years of his 25-year-long binge, Hopper was drinking half a gallon of rum and 30 beers a day.

Clearly, Hopper is a much better photographer than a chronicler of his own substance abuse. That's the equivalent of over seventy drinks a day--I don't care if you're Dennis Hopper or God, you won't last five weeks with that much booze intake.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:11 PM on October 29, 2009


Hang on a second Hopper-heads!

Hopper may well have developed a brilliant camera eye, but I thought I remembered this curious detail about him correctly- and I've just checked my copy of Blockbuster (2004) - a very jolly critical history of Hollywood hits -by the fairly well rated film writer Tom Shone.

From Shone's book, on the making of Easy Rider:

""Dennis believed, and this was a revelation after we found it out, because he cut for months under this misapprehension - that once you made a cut you couldn't put anything back," said one of Hopper's collaborators on Easy Rider. "It was absolutely stunning. He was the worst editor that's ever been."..."

That's all there is to this nugget (elsewhere Shone is fairly positive about the demented energy of that movie.) It's annoying the quote is not attributed. But that detail is so appealingly nuts I want to believe it!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:14 PM on October 29, 2009


Hopper is one of those complicated lunatic talents that is very hard to pin down. His politics and personal behavior are sometimes as repugnant and abhorrent as they are fascinating. I mean the dude pulls a knife on Rip Torn and then, thirty years later, has the balls to go on Leno and claim it was the other way 'round. So Torn sues his ass and Hopper, of course being a nut, loses to the tune of $400K.

Sometimes his acting is so terrible, so over the top, he sucks the life off the screen and shits a distracting mess. But other times he really is brilliant. People throw that word around way too much. But sometimes Hopper is brilliant. As in he shines with complexity. Like you come back to that particular role and watch it over and over. That zen in-the-literal-moment thing is right there on screen.

Then you see him, a guy that snorted 4 grams of cocaine a day just so he be alert enough to drink a gallon of vodka, talk about health care reforms and the Public Option as a commie plot to subvert our precious bodily fluids GRAAAARARAGLE...
posted by tkchrist at 6:34 PM on October 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


If anyone hasn't seen the Russian Suicide chair stunt he did, it's on Wholphin 3. You'd have to be really fucked up to go for that, so the estimate of the drinks doesn't sound that far off actually.
posted by mike_bling at 8:22 PM on October 29, 2009



Sometimes his acting is so terrible, so over the top, he sucks the life off the screen and shits a distracting mess. But other times he really is brilliant. People throw that word around way too much. But sometimes Hopper is brilliant. As in he shines with complexity. Like you come back to that particular role and watch it over and over. That zen in-the-literal-moment thing is right there on screen.


Which is why, in my ever-over-eagerness to advocate for David Lynch's brilliance, that I view Lynch as much of a sculptor than anything else. In a certain definition of sculpture, the material is exactly the material that it is -- it's not masquerading as anything else, and it's compelling precisely for that fact. The above description of Hopper is exactly what comes across in Blue Velvet in light of this definition, though in a particularly noir way given the narrative that took place around his performance.
posted by treepour at 10:26 PM on October 29, 2009


It's hard for me not to be earnestly scared of this man, for whatever brilliance he does posess, after the terrifying portrait Biskind wrote of him; high, abusive, armed, erratic.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:03 PM on October 29, 2009


Unfortunately Hopper won't be arriving in Australia as planned next week for an exhibition of his pics - he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Heard it on the radio, no links sorry.
posted by Kerasia at 2:21 AM on October 30, 2009


haolloweekjack: you won't last five weeks with that much booze intake.

yeh, there's a idea of glamor around substance abuse in modern American culture, at least. I think it's there in 19th C. european culture as well, but I don't have specific cites, just recollections of similar exaggeration in "realist" literary works. But like most things American, I think we take it to excess. E.g., if you actually did the stuff that Hunter Thompson claimed to have done, you'd be dead in a year or two, max. (Unless you're a space alien or a cyborg. Which, I suppose, it possible. Or fictional. Which I suppose is my point.) When he was living in NY in the early 80s, John Lydon claimed to be drinking at least two fifths of Jack a day, plus beer at the club.

Part of that has to be the fact that if you're buzzed out of your mind you can't keep such good track, but I've consorted with enough hard-drinkers (and even bona fide drunks) to know that teh bigger part of it is macho. (How do I know it's macho? Well, first, macho is an external judgement; by its nature, it's something you say about someone else. But more importantly, you know it's macho when you see several guys go around a circle and the amount of booze or drugs consumed gets bigger with each person telling their story, until you get back around to the first speaker -- this is not just guys, I've known some women who were dedicated macho-drinkers -- and s/he's got an even bigger story to tell about even greater and more impressive consumption.)

We have this romantic idea about junkies and drunks -- at least, about artists who are junkies and drunks (though in my more copious than I like to remember drunk-time, I've seen this applied to all manner of supposed genius). I think it's of a piece with the way we lionize assholes and make excuses for it by saying "but s/he's an artist, the muse takes her price." Which, frankly, is bullshit: Great art does not require that you abuse people or blow your mind on booze or drugs. A little suffering helps with the insight, but it should be clear that the smarter you are, the less suffering you should need. ("Need", of course, being a relative concept.)

But we remember the assholes and the drunks, I'll give you that. Some of us have good, personal reasons to remember them.
posted by lodurr at 3:40 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


"relative concept" => "subjective concept"
posted by lodurr at 3:44 AM on October 30, 2009


I don't know what particular intoxicants Hopper was using when he made The Last Movie but I bet it was primo stuff.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:38 AM on October 30, 2009


Damn, that picture of Ike & Tina with her behind the washboard is crazy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:11 AM on October 30, 2009




The whim of a madman!
posted by LiliaNic at 8:54 AM on October 30, 2009


The photo credit from the Times Online link made me smile: (Taschen/Dennis Hooper)
posted by sweetmarie at 9:24 AM on October 30, 2009


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