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DENNIS HOPPER

BIOGRAPHY

I watched the hard rain in puddles. I collected bugs in the mornings by picking up leaves and putting them in a fruit jar with nail holes in the top. I lay in the ditch and watched the combines come along the dirt road.

VIEW TIMELINE

I was born in Dodge City, Kansas, on a farm, in 1936. I followed the light changing on the horizon.

I watched the hard rain in puddles. I collected bugs in the mornings by picking up leaves and putting them in a fruit jar with nail holes in the top. I lay in the ditch and watched the combines come along the dirt road. They were from Oklahoma. I wondered where the trains went. I shot a BB gun at the black crows. I fought the cows with a wooden sword. I hung ropes in the trees and played Tarzan. I listened to Joe Louis fight on the radio. I fed the chickens, pigs, cows. I swam in the swimming pool my mother waged in Dodge. I got a telescope and looked at the sun and went blind for five days. I caught lightening bugs, lightning shows, sunsets, and followed animal tracks in the snow. I had a kite. I used the telescope to burn holes in newspapers. The sun was brighter than I was. God was everywhere, and I was desperate. I sniffed gasoline and saw clowns and goblins in the clouds. I was Errol Flynn and Abbott and Costello.

I ODed on the gasoline and attacked my grandfather’s truck with a baseball bat, breaking the windshield and headlights. I ate raw onion sandwiches in the Victory Garden. My father went to war. I drove a combine and one wayed. On my broom horse I announced the beginning of the war to the crows. I was William Tell and Paul Revere. I dug fox holes in the field and played war. I racked balls in the pool hall, smoked cigarettes, drank beer, and ate more onions. My grandfather and grandmother Davis were my best friends. I walked on the rails on the train tracks. I shot marbles with an agate shooter. I caught catfish and carp in the river. I wondered what mountains looked like, and skyscrapers. I imagined them on the Kansas horizon. At thirteen I saw my first ones. They were smaller than I had imagined. So was the ocean. It was just like the horizon line on my wheat field. I was disappointed. I had a newspaper route. I delivered the newspaper from my bicycle. I collected paper to sell. I sold empty Coke bottles for money.
-Dennis Hopper

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1936 - 1948

Dennis Hopper, the first son of Jay and Marjorie Hopper, was born in Dodge City, Kansas, on May 17, 1936.
His mother managed the local swimming pool and his father, who worked for the Railway Mail Service, was often away from home for days at a time on mail runs from Kansas City to Denver. When Jay enlisted in the Armed Forces during World War II, Hopper was sent to live on the farm of his grandparents, a few miles from Dodge City. His happiest moments throughout these years occurred during weekly trips to town, where he would sell eggs with his grandmother and then spend hours in darkened movie theaters watching Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Wild Bill Elliott, and Randolph Scott. When his father returned from the war, the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where, at the age of nine or ten, Hopper enrolled in an art class at the Nelson Art Gallery and began to paint. The gallery also offered a drama class, which provided Hopper with his first opportunity to observe and sketch live actors.

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1949 - 1953

In 1949, the family relocated to San Diego, California, because of his younger brother David’s asthma.
Dennis Hopper, the first son of Jay and Marjorie Hopper, was born in Dodge City, Kansas, on May 17, 1936. His mother managed the local swimming pool and his father, who worked for the Railway Mail Service, was often away from home for days at a time on mail runs from Kansas City to Denver. When Jay enlisted in the Armed Forces during World War II, Hopper was sent to live on the farm of his grandparents, a few miles from Dodge City. His happiest moments throughout these years occurred during weekly trips to town, where he would sell eggs with his grandmother and then spend hours in darkened movie theaters watching Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Wild Bill Elliott, and Randolph Scott. When his father returned from the war, the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where, at the age of nine or ten, Hopper enrolled in an art class at the Nelson Art Gallery and began to paint. The gallery also offered a drama class, which provided Hopper with his first opportunity to observe and sketch live actors.

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1954 - 1955

In November of 1954, Hopper, with a reference letter from Swope, headed directly for Hollywood to visit Ruth Birch, head of casting at Hal Roach Studios.
She gave him a ten- line part in the television series Cavalcade of America, enabling him to obtain a Screen Actors Guild card and an agent. Soon after, Hopper was given a featured role as a boy with epilepsy in “Boy in a Storm,” an episode of the popular television series The Medic. After “Boy in a Storm” was aired on January 5, 1955, seven major studios contacted Hopper’s agent, Bob Raison, to negotiate contracts. Accompanied by Raison, he first met with Harry Cohn, studio chief at Columbia Pictures, but the meeting ended in discord. They then visited Warner Brothers to meet with Nicholas Ray, who was preparing to direct Rebel without a Cause. Hopper signed a standard seven-year contract with Warner Brothers, appearing in I Died a Thousand Times and then Rebel without a Cause, playing Goon, an adversary of James Dean’s character Jim. Dean became a mentor and close friend to Hopper during filming and encouraged Hopper’s new interest in photography and directing film. It was Dean who first pointed toward what would become a compositional guideline for Hopper’s photography: “I know you’re going to direct someday, so learn to take photographs and don’t crop them, use the still full-frame,” Dean urged. Photography became an artistic endeavor as well as mental and visual training. Dean was also an influential figure in Hopper’s training as an actor. Hopper relates: “He taught me the trick about the ‘imaginary line.’ If you go to a movie set you’ll notice that the people who are sitting around off camera are behaving one way, and the people who are on camera in another. In other words, one is natural and the other is false. Dean knew how to bring that same tone of reality onto the set itself. And that’s great acting, because then it isn’t acting at all.” This interpretation of realism has been a leading concept in Hopper’s acting and film-making throughout his career.

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1956 - 1958

Following Rebel without a Cause, both Dean and Hopper moved to Marfa, Texas, to begin shooting Giant, a film directed by George Stevens and based on the best-selling novel by Edna Ferber.
Hopper’s magnificent performance in the role of Jordy, Jr., earned the high praise of both Stevens and Dean as well as many film critics, and Warner Brothers lobbied for Hopper’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor in the Oscar race. Dean’s tragic and sudden death occurred just eight days after he finished his final scene in Los Angeles. Hopper was devastated by the death of his close friend. In the summer of 1956, Elvis Presley—who had just signed his first movie contract with the producer Hal Wallis—visited Hopper in Hollywood. The two shared memories of Dean. In October, Warner Brothers gave Hopper a principle role in King’s Row, a drama for the studio’s ABC-TV series. His costar was Natalie Wood, who had developed a friendship with Hopper off-screen during the filming of Rebel without a Cause. Hopper played the part of Napoleon Bonaparte in The Story of Mankind. He also appeared in many television Westerns including Cheyenne, The Rifleman, and The Wagon Train, and in the films Gunfight at the OK Corral, with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, and The Young Land, playing a villain opposite Pat Wayne. In 1958, Warner Brothers loaned Hopper to 20th Century Fox for another Western, From Hell to Texas. A fatal clash of personalities between Hopper and the film’s director, Henry Hathaway, resulted in the loss of his Warner Brothers’ contract and the expulsion of Hopper from Hollywood.

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1959 - 1960

Hopper headed to New York to study with Lee Strasberg, whose method acting was based on the notion that the brain and emotions are controlled by the senses:
“That’s the way you get to have emotional memory. It’s not remembering but going through your senses and seeing if the sense will bring back what happened when your mother slapped you. So the senses can then be used for emotional recall. To recall things is method acting.” In New York, Hopper also spent his time in galleries and museums, developing his artistic sense as well as his art collection. Following James Dean’s suggestion, Hopper began taking photographs for the purpose of learning composition. His first photographs were of people on the streets of New York, sort of West Side Story kind of photos. He continued to appear in numerous television series, including Zane Grey Theater, Pursuit, Barbara Stanwyck Theatre, Studio One, The Twilight Zone, and Naked City, and in 1959 went back to Hollywood to play another villain in Phil Karlson’s Key Witness.

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1961 - 1962

In 1961, Hopper took part in an international photography competition in Australia with a contribution of five abstract photos, which he called Pieces. He won first place.

Hopper appeared on Broadway in Mandingo, a Lyceum Theater production, with Franchot Tone and Brooke Hayward. The play, written by Jack Kirkland, is based on a novel by Kyle Onstott about life on a nineteenth-century slave plantation. The production lasted only eight performances due to negative reviews. Soon after, Hopper married Hayward, daughter of the film producer Leland Hayward, whose credits include The Sound of Music and South Pacific. The wedding party of Hopper and Hayward was held in August at the apartment of actress Jane Fonda, a childhood friend of Hayward, who introduced Hopper to her younger brother Peter Fonda.
Their daughter Marin was born in 1961, and they moved to Bel Air, California. Soon afterward the famous Bel Air fire destroyed their home, including approximately three-hundred Abstract Expressionist works and hundreds of pages of poetry that Hopper had begun in the mid-1950s. Also in 1961, Hopper starred in Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide (released in 1963), his first leading role in a feature film. One of the first American independent films, Night Tide was screened at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.
Hopper and his actor friends Dean Stockwell and Russ Tamblyn were close to many artists in California, especially assemblage artists Edward Kienholz, Wallace Berman, and George Herms, and artist/filmmaker Bruce Conner. As Hopper was denied work in film, he turned increasingly to his own artistic investigations. He started assembling objects with photographs (photo-assemblages) and conceptually questioning the relationships between “reality,” “illusion,” and “representation,” sometimes working under the guidance of Kienholz. “I was recording objects -in a photograph- and using the object the way it functioned, and then affixing the object itself to the record of the object, and using light and recreating the light of the real object, recreating the light in the gallery and having the record of the way it looked using natural light and raw canvas.” Hopper became a key figure in the L.A. art scene in the early 1960s, and his black-and-white photographs of artist friends were used occasionally for posters and announcements for the Ferus Gallery or for the covers of the magazine Artforum.

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1963 -

In 1963, Henry Geldzahler, curator of twentieth-century art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, introduced Hopper to Andy Warhol.

Coincidentally, the meeting occurred on the very day Warhol introduced the young British artist David Hockney to Geldzahler, and all of them went to the sound stage on West 125th Street to watch Hopper work as a guest star on the television series The Defenders. A few months later, Warhol mounted An Exhibition by Andy Warhol at Ferus Gallery in L.A., showing his silkscreen paintings of Elvis Presley and Liz Taylor. Hopper threw a party at which he introduced many actor friends to Warhol. With a 16mm movie camera purchased before leaving New York, Warhol shot his first film, Tarzan and Jane Regained…Sort of, while staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Hopper appeared in the film with Claes and Pat Oldenburg, Naomi Levine, Wallace Berman, and Taylor Mead. Under the influence of Warhol and the emerging Pop artists, Hopper was drawn to commercial images, billboards, silk screens, and “manufactured” art—to a “return to reality” which became a leitmotif during the 1960s.
In October 1963, Walter Hopps, curator at the Pasadena Art Museum, organized by or of Marcel Duchamp or Rrose Selavy, the first retrospective of Marcel Duchamp’s work in the United States. This exhibition had an enormous impact on the entire L.A. art scene and on Hopper’s work in particular. Hopper became increasingly interested in the idea of the readymade, shared authorship, and the artist as “finger pointer.” During the exhibition, Hopper stole the sign of the Hotel Green, where Duchamp was staying, and had the artist sign the object with its image of a pointing finger. Hopper recalled, “I then went into a whole area of stealing things, of going out and stealing the Mobil flying red horse. I would make it into a piece of sculpture in front of a big car that Kienholz and I found, this big old Chevrolet. So then I’d steal all these road signs and road stuff: Quaker Oil, Mobil, Shell Oil, and all these things that would sit in front of this big Chevy.”

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1964 - 1967

Hopper had his first solo exhibition of assemblages at Primus/David Stuart Gallery in L.A. in January 1964.

In 1965, Henry Hathaway hired Hopper for the production of The Sons of Katie Elder, starring John Wayne and Dean Martin and set in Durango, Mexico. In January 1966, Robert Fraser Gallery in London showed Los Angeles Now, an exhibition featuring Hopper’s new Foam Rubber sculpture, which consisted of huge boulders and cacti constructed out of foam rubber. The exhibition also included works by Larry Bell, Wallace Berman, Jess Collins, Bruce Conner, Llyn Foulkes, Craig Kauffman, and Edward Ruscha.
1967 began a twenty-five-year period of suspension of Hopper’s photographic work, during which time he devoted his artistic energies mainly to film. His last artwork was a replica of a World War II bomb-drop control switch constructed in plastic and stainless steel. Remembered Hopper, “I started working in plastic, a big plastic Bomb Drop. And I found it out junking with Kienholz, this World War II bomb-drop. So I made it in a big plastic thing with lights inside and went through the primary colors—blue, yellow, red—and it would go to white and freeze there, and this big phallus with these big balls would go from arm to safe, arm to safe. And that was the last piece I did before I went, and I showed that at the Pasadena Art Museum -in February and March 1968-.”
During the filming of The Sons of Katie Elder, Hopper began to conceptualize The Last Movie, which he wrote in collaboration with Steward Stern, writer for Rebel without a Cause. Struggling with financing, it became apparent that production of The Last Movie could not go forward, and Hopper took a small part in the psychedelic film The Trip, starring Peter Fonda, written by Jack Nicholson, and directed by Roger Corman, who gave Fonda and Hopper a chance to direct a scene in the film. The Trip earned a new audience among “anti-establishment viewers” and brought together the team that would later produce the 1969 breakthrough film Easy Rider. Hopper also directed part of The Glory Stompers, in which he played a villain once again. These two opportunities were good practice for Hopper’s ongoing directorial activities.

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1968 - 1969

In 1968, Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson agreed to finance the “biker film” Easy Rider, named and co-written by Hopper, Terry Southern, and Peter Fonda.

Filming began immediately with a 16mm camera. Barry Feinstein, who had presented Hopper’s first exhibition in 1961, served as the initial cinematographer for the project and was succeeded by Laszlo Kovacs after a series of difficulties shooting the film. The actor selected to play the role of George Hanson was Jack Nicholson. Interest in the film grew gradually, and it was eventually included, as the official entry of the United States, at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received the award for Best New Director. The film went on to break box office records throughout the world and was nominated for Academy Awards in two categories—Best Screenplay (Fonda, Southern, and Hopper) and Best Supporting Actor (Nicholson).

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1970 - 1979

The financial success of Easy Rider opened opportunities for young filmmakers. Universal Pictures hired five “young genius” directors, including Hopper, who, in 1970, revisited The Last Movie and began filming in Chinchero, Peru.
The film would examine the process of Hollywood filmmaking and its effects on the natives of Peru as they observed the filmmaking process. The film was finished under budget and on schedule. Moving to Taos, New Mexico, Hopper purchased a house that belonged to Mabel Dodge Luhan, caretaker of D.H. Lawrence. Here Hopper began editing The Last Movie.
During this period, Hopper married Michelle Phillips, who appeared in the film’s thirty-minute-long pre-credit sequence (the longest in Hollywood film history) with many other young actors, including Dean Stockwell, Jim Mitchum, Russ Tamblyn, John Phillip Law, Kris Kristofferson, and Peter Fonda. The marriage lasted only eight days. During editing of The Last Movie, Lawrence Schiller and L. M. Kit Carson came to Taos to shoot a documentary film on Hopper, The American Dreamer, written by Schiller, Carson, and Hopper himself. In 1971, Hopper purchased El Cortez Movie Theater in Ranchos de Taos. The theater served as a screening room as well as a space for showing free cartoons to community children on the weekends. Hopper also opened a gallery, Dennis Hopper Works of Art, with the purpose of introducing various artists to the Taos community. One day Georgia O’Keeffe visited Hopper’s house after hearing of the reputation of the man who had purchased the house of Mabel Dodge Luhan.
Though The Last Movie won the prestigious C.I.D.A.L.C. Award at the Venice Film Festival in 1971, the result was never announced, and Universal Pictures refused to distribute the film unless Hopper would agree to re-edit it. Hopper declined, and the film was effectively shelved. Later, Hopper was able to arrange for a television release of the film under the title Chinchero.
Hopper married Daria Halprin in 1972, and the couple returned to Taos, where Hopper’s second daughter Ruthanna was born the following year. Although he had suspended his artistic activities outside of filmmaking, Hopper was represented in several exhibitions during the early 1970s: Survey of the Sixties (1970), an exhibition of two hundred photographs at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy; Dennis Hopper: Black and White Photographs (1970), a solo exhibition organized by Henry T. Hopkins for the Fort Worth Art Center Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Denver Art Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado; and Dennis Hopper: Black and White Photographs from the 1960s (1971), an exhibition of photographs at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Following his Washington, D.C. exhibition at Corcoran Gallery, Hopper left thousands of negatives produced between 1961 and 1967 in the custody of Hopkins, who was responsible for ensuring their survival through the troublesome 1970s. During the 1970s, Hopper continued to collaborate with a number of significant artists. In 1971, Andy Warhol made a portrait of Dennis Hopper in The Last Movie. A year later, Warhol and Hopper worked together on MAO (1972), a silkscreen on paper produced by Warhol. Hopper shot two bullets in the finished work. In 1967, Bruce Conner had wanted to exhibit a series of collages at the James Willis Gallery, San Francisco, as The Dennis Hopper One Man Show; due to differences between Conner and Willis, the exhibition was not realized. Later, in 1973, Conner published a series of etchings based on the original collages, and this show did take place at both the James Willis Gallery and the Texas Gallery in Houston under the title The Dennis Hopper One Man Show.
Hopper also acted in many films throughout the 1970s, including Kid Blue by James Frawley, Tracks by Henry Jaglom, Mad Dog Morgan by Philippe Mora, and The American Friend by Wim Wenders. One of his costars in The American Friend was his longtime friend, Nicholas Ray, who had cast Hopper in Rebel without a Cause years earlier. In 1976, Hopper flew to Pagsanjan, Philippines, for the Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now, an opportunity to work with Marlon Brando. Hopper was widely praised for his performance as a photojournalist when the film was released in 1979 after three years of production.

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1980 - 1986

In 1980, Hopper was invited to play the role of an alcoholic father in the Canadian film The Case of Cindy Barnes, and later took over for Leonard Yakir, co-writer and original director of the film.
Hopper rewrote the screenplay, renaming the film Out of the Blue after the song of his friend Neil Young. During the early 1980s, Hopper appeared in Rumble Fish, by Francis Ford Coppola; The Human Highway, by Neil Young and Dean Stockwell; The Osterman Weekend, by Sam Peckinpah; and O.C. and Stiggs, by Robert Altman.
In 1982, the Film Center of the Art Institute of Chicago presented Dennis Hopper: Art on the Edge, a cinematic retrospective and exhibit of a series of 1960s photographs, which traveled to Houston, Texas. Walter Hopps, director of the Rice Media Center, invited Hopper the following year to show Shot on the Run, a selection of one hundred photographs, an invitation that would trigger a new interest in painting. Hopper, still living in Taos, acquired some canvases from an Indian painter. As Hopper now describes the period: “I just go crazy for a couple of weeks using a lot of cocaine, and I do all these paintings, and I go down to Houston. Walter gets me a gallery to show ’em in, at the same time I’m showing my photographs at Rice University, the de Menils have a place there. And then I blow myself up at the Big H Speedway. I put twenty sticks of dynamite around myself in this race car arena, and I blow myself up, and the dynamite won’t blow in on itself, and I do this performance, and then I announce that I have now started painting again. So the last work I do is Bomb Drop in 1968, and then fifteen years later I blow myself up to announce my return to the art world and start painting again. … Okay, and then from there I’m locked up. I’m incarcerated and I go through a bunch of shit and crap and so, and finally I get sober and I go through a year or so, whatever.”
The event referred to was a cataclysmic self-explosion with a “Russian Death Chair” performance that would symbolize the end of an era of abuse and destruction and a return to painting and art. Within a few months, Hopper had created a series of Indian Paintings, using a combination of collage, abstract painting, and graffiti. The paintings reveal, in the words of Rudi Fuchs, an “obsessive hecticness and sloppiness, as if the artist was in a hurry. Once more, after all these years, he wanted to put into practice what he still knew from the old days: the movements of the hand and the controlling keenness of the eye.” There is a transitory quality to the series, and Hopper, in fact, would take ten more years to accomplish the subsequent series Colors and Morocco. After struggling through a drug an alcohol rehabilitation program, Hopper returned to his acting career in 1985, appearing in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and David Anspaugh’s Hoosiers, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He won awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his roles in both films.
During the 1980s, Hopper was also “rediscovered” as a photographer through two solo exhibitions in 1986, Dennis Hopper Photographs at Arts Lab in Birmingham, England, and Dennis Hopper: Out of the Sixties at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York. Hopper decided to leave Taos and moved to Venice, California, where he bought one of three studios built by Frank O. Gehry and Brian Murphy. Hopper’s choice of Venice was influenced by his fond memories of attending Beat poetry readings and Cool Jazz performances there with James Dean in 1954.

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1987 - 1989

In 1987, Hopper starting filming Colors with Sean Penn and Robert Duvall. When the film was released the following year, screenings were cancelled at fifteen theaters in California and New Jersey for fear of potential gang violence. Subsequent films include Backtrack, with Jody Foster, Dean Stockwell, and Vincent Price; The Hot Spot, with Don Johnson and Virginia Madsen; and Chasers, with Tom Berenger, William McNamara, and Erika Eleniak. In late 1987, a solo exhibition and film retrospective, Dennis Hopper: From Method to Madness, was held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It traveled to New York; Boston; Cleveland, Ohio; Houston; and Berkeley, California, in 1988. His early assemblage and sculpture was featured in a group exhibition, Forty Years of California Assemblage, at Wight Art Gallery at University of California, Los Angeles, in 1989. The exhibition traveled to San Jose and Fresno, California, and Omaha, Nebraska. Between October and November 1989, the first Dennis Hopper Festival was held at Shibuya Parco in Tokyo and traveled to many cities in Japan throughout 1990. The festival included a film retrospective and a photo exhibition, Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961–67. During this period, Hopper purchased a new Nikon 35Ti camera in Kyoto, and for the first time in nearly twenty-five years began to work his way through thirty rolls of film. As with his photography of the 1960s, he worked with black-and-white film, believing that color obscures content, especially in abstract work. “In the States, I had them developed, looked at the proof sheets vaguely, and put them away. Six months later I blew up twelve pictures to give to friends in Japan because they always give me presents. I was surprised at how much I liked the pictures. The body of work consists of over three hundred photographs. Shortly after, Hopper began working in color for the first time.

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1991 - 1995

Hopper married Katherine LaNasa in 1989 and their son, Henry Lee, was born in 1990. Hopper and LaNasa divorced in 1992. Throughout the 1990s, Hopper’s work as an actor included such film and television productions as Flashback, Chattahoochee, Paris Trout, Red Rock West, Doublecrossed, True Romance, Speed, Search & Destroy, Waterworld, Carried Away, and Ed TV. Around 1991, Hopper returned to his work on canvas, with a series of composite multi-element paintings entitled Colors. Using computer-enlarged prints of stills from his film Colors (1989), he created blurred images that he transferred onto canvas. The resulting imagery is difficult to identify. “And it’s sort of like those Gerhard Richter kinds of images where you’re not quite sure…It looks like something’s violent, you’re not quite sure what’s happening. I took some of these images and I blew them up on canvas, committed them on canvas.” On other panels, just as in the film, Hopper was obsessed with the iconography of L.A. gangs. Other paintings in the series are based on color Polaroid photographs of L.A. urban landscapes. In 1994, after a trip to Morocco, Hopper returned yet again to painting, creating a series reminiscent of Moroccan wall surfaces. “They make these big white grids that go all the way down on a wall, and they had little squares underneath them and they’d put pictures in and writing in them and you’d see these white things everywhere.” The flat surface also became the prevalent motif of his photographic work created between 1994 and 1998. Hopper’s interest in the flatness of walls and objects without depth of field as analogous to the surface of a painting had already appeared in early photographs from the 1960s. During his travels, Hopper photographed these “abstract realities” and mounted them on metal, rather like small tablets, or enlarged them to human size. They are “pieces of walls, floors, man-made objects, with human surface scratchings—brief and temporary, like life itself, yet clear and precious.” These works, including the earlier Colors series, constitute a belated response to Abstract Expressionism turned into realism. “I was attacking like an action painter, but I was also using other things, references, and I was thinking of them as landscapes and not so much as abstract painting.”

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1996 - 2001

Hopper continued to actively exhibit his photographs, paintings, and assemblages in many solo exhibitions in Europe, Japan, and the United States, including Dennis Hopper: The Sixties, the Eighties, and Now at Fred Hoffman Fine Art in Santa Monica, California; Dennis Hopper: Forms of Indifference at Galerien Bittner & Dembinski in Kassel, Germany; Dennis Hopper: Italian Walls at Palazzo Marino alla Scala in Milan, Italy; Dennis Hopper: Four Decades at Ansel Adams Center in San Francisco; Dennis Hopper: Fotografias at Metta Galeria in Madrid; Abstract Reality at Parco Gallery in Tokyo; Reflections at Galerie Hans Mayer in Berlin; and American Pictures, 1961–1967: Photographs by Dennis Hopper at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles. In 1998, Hopper was given the George Eastman Award at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, in honor of his achievements in film and art. For his retrospective exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and MAK Vienna in 2001, Hopper realized his latest series of wall assemblages, giant advertisement figures (such as Mobile Man and Man from La Salsa), and billboards, re-engaging his entire artistic repertoire, from found objects and assemblage to wall objects and billboards.

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2002 - 2010

In early 2000, Hopper began to experiment with digital photography, creating bodies of work inspired by both his travels abroad and his time spent exploring Los Angeles, as seen in both his Bucharest Nights and Venice Beach photographs. Several international exhibitions of his work were mounted during the 2000s, including an exhibition at the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2007 and two large-scale exhibitions in France and Australia in 2008. In 2003, Hopper’s fourth child, Galen, was born. Hopper also continued to have an active film and television career. In 2002, he had a reoccurring guest spot on the acclaimed television show 24. In 2005–06, Hopper costarred, opposite Benjamin Bratt, in the Jerry Bruckheimer/Warner TV–produced NBC series E-Ring, and in 2008–09 he led the cast of the Starz original series Crash. Also in 2008, Hopper appeared in Sleepwalking, alongside Charlize Theron; Elegy, with Penelope Cruz and Ben Kingsley; Hell Ride, executive produced by Quentin Tarantino; and Palermo Shooting, directed by Wim Wenders. On March 26, 2010, Hopper was honored with the 2,403rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He passed away in Venice, California, on May 29, 2010, after battling prostate cancer. This text is excerpted from Dennis Hopper: A System of Moments, ed. Peter Noever, exh. cat. (Vienna: MAK; and Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2001).