Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dennis Hopper Double Standard

Dennis Hopper Double StandardDennis Hopper Double Standard by Julian Schnabel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A rush-released catalog to go with the speedy put-together Dennis Hopper exhibition at Los Angeles' MOCA. Timing due to Hopper's illness. Sadly his cancer overtook him before the opening. Nevertheless it is an interesting show and small catalog. With respect to credits, and who's who in the photographs, there are some mistakes, but again, it is understandable due to the speed production with respect in putting this small, but must-have book out, especially if you go see the show.

Dennis was one of those great personalities that were in the right place and the right time. He was a fantastic portrait photographer, but I think a so-so visual artist. I think the problem (if it is even a problem) is that he was such a major fan of the artists of his lifetime. Of course he was a great friend (my father for instance) of many of the artists that he collected - and god, he had a great eye for the art. His instinct was right-on the pulse of what was happening around his world. Also he had great glamour. And that sounds kind of light, but it shouldn't be meant that way. He had a presence when he walked into a room. Dennis carried not only himself, but also a whole tradition of Hollywood turning into a different type of engine, as well as the visual arts that was exploding in the late 50's and 1960's.

So a lot of the artwork he made seems like homage to another artist. He had style (lots of it) but it doesn't convey in the paintings/collages. But his photos are something else. I sense Hopper had a great style in that medium. The photos in the exhibition are hung salon style. Meaning they are all over the walls - and it is fun to focus on them from the center of the room.

So the book itself is a reminder of a show - and there are for sure better books out on his artwork and photography. Nevertheless Dennis Hopper is going to be missed on this planet. And it’s nice to go into a room of his artwork/photos because they remind you of the exciting visual world of the 60's and beyond. So yeah the work itself is ok, but what they represent to Dennis was an exciting new world at the time.

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