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Dennis Hopper art exhibit opens at Geffen-MOCA

July 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Movie fans know Dennis Hopper from "Easy Rider," "Apocalypse Now," and so many more films, but his death five weeks ago also marked the end of his life as an artist.Hopper did not live to see the first major exhibit of his art to be shown in the United States, but it is opening here in L.A. on Sunday. It shows a side of Hopper that many may not know.

This collection of art would be impressive even if the artist didn't have a full career in film as well. But at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA there are more than 200 works of Dennis Hopper.

Hopper was known to most for his screen roles as a renegade.

Hopper got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 26, just two months before he died of prostate cancer.

He didn't get to see his exhibit on the walls at MOCA, but he knew what would be going up there. Not only his photography, but big paintings and wall constructions, and billboard paintings created from his photos, like a biker couple, or a very young Andy Warhol, turned larger than life.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Director Jeffry Deitch said they were able to put the show together in just a few months.

"It is an emotional occasion," said Deitch. "We wish that Dennis Hopper had been here to attend the opening, but happy that Dennis was very involved in the organization of the exhibition. He knew everything that we were putting in."

The exhibit was created by artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, who took the unusual position of kneeling at his meeting with the media so he wouldn't block the concept piece behind him.

The mural of the photograph for which the show is named is called "Double Standard."

"Dennis was an inspiration for me as a person in every way," said Schnabel. "I mean, he was like my brother."

Yet Schnabel said he had little difficulty selecting which pieces to use and how to arrange them to tell the artistic journey of Dennis Hopper, who was at the forefront of combining his life with popular culture and art.

"Somebody's trying to figure out how to mediate the world, somehow, by making objects, by making films, by using things that are around them," said Schnabel. "I think that you see what his world was like. I think this is a pretty good portrait of him."

Most people think of Dennis Hopper for his work in Hollywood. After seeing this show his work as an artist will have an entirely different meaning.


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