Dennis Hopper Behind The Camera And The Canvas.

Dennis Hopper Tribute

By now you’ve heard the sad news. Actor/writer/director Dennis Hopper has finally lost his battle with prostate cancer and passed away on Saturday, May 29th at the age of 74.

Dennis Hopper Tribute


Behind The Camera And The Canvas
In the papers and magazines, you’ll read about his troubled marriages, his drug addictions, his famous films that affected our culture like Easy Rider and Apocalypse Now. But the talented legend also leaves behind such a huge impact on the world of art and photography, he will be immortalized in many ways other than on celluloid -or digital, as the case may be.

In addition to the movies that made him a household name (Rebel Without A Cause, Giant, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, Hoosiers and tons more), the actor was an incredibly respected and prolific photographer, painter, activist and documentarian.

Dennis Hopper tribute at  if it's hip, it's here

By the time you finish reading this very comprehensive post (you had better pee now) on his work behind the camera and canvas, you’ll no longer think of him as Frank, the huffing villain in Blue Velvet, but instead may ask yourself “was Dennis Hopper also an actor?”

Dennis Hopper in front of his 2000 painting of his 1964 photo "Fractured Girl"
above: Dennis Hopper in front of his 2000 painting of his 1964 photo “Fractured Girl”

When it comes to being ‘hip’, Dennis Hopper was the epitome. Besides becoming buddies with uber cool actors such as James Dean, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and Dean Stockwell in the 50s and 60s, he brought his camera to many of the film sets on which he was working and captured wonderful images of his fellow actors and musicians of the time.

Hopper’s photos of Actors & Musicians:
Paul Newman, 1964 and Bill Cosby (in front of Chateau Marmont), 1962:
Paul Newman photo taken by Dennis HopperBill Cosby photo taken by Dennis Hopper
Warhol’s Factory, 1963:
Warhol's Factory, photo by Dennnis Hopper
Tuesday Weld, 1965:
Tuesday Weld, photo by Dennis Hopper
Ttuesday Weld photo montage, photos be Dennis Hopper
Jane Fonda, 1965:
Jane Fonda, photos by Dennis Hopper
Dean Stockwell, 1964:
Dean Stockwell, photo by Dennis Hopper
Brian Jones, 1965:
Brian Jones, photo by Dennis Hopper
Jefferson Airplane, 1965:
Jefferson Airplane
The Grateful Dead, 1965:
Grateful Dead, 1965, photo by Dennis Hopper

Hopper’s self-portraits
(as well as the one at the top of this post):
Dennis Hopper, Self -portrait
dennis hopper, self-portrait
Man Within Light, self-portrait:
Dennis Hopper, man Within Light, a self-portrait

Hopper’s photos of the Civil Rights March
When he was only 28, he traveled to Alabama to take part in—and document—the now famous civil-rights march from Selma to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King Jr. Here are a few of those images:

Dennis Hopper's photos of the Civil Rights March
Dennis Hopper's photos of the Civil Rights March
Dennis Hopper's photos of the Civil Rights March
Dennis Hopper's photos of the Civil Rights March
Dennis Hopper's photos of the Civil Rights March

He began collecting contemporary art in the 50s and was enviably smack in the midst of the POP art scene. In the 60s he hung out with the likes of artists Andy Warhol and his Factory, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Claus Oldenburg and Ed Ruscha, to name a few.

Below are some of his portraits of these talented artists, many amongst their own work. He also turned several of these 1960’s photographs into giant oil paintings later in his career, which are shown later in this post.

Hopper’s photos of Fine Artists
Gallery owner Virgina Dawn, in front of a Franz Kline painting, 1962:
Gallery owner Virgina Dawn, in front of a Franz Kline painting, 1962:
Andy Warhol, two different photos by Dennis Hopper, 1963:
Andy Warhol, photo by Dennis Hopper, 1963Andy Warhol, photo by Dennis Hopper, 1963
Jasper Johns, 1964 and Claus Oldenberg, 1965:
Jasper Johns, 1964, photo by Dennis HopperClaus Oldenberg, 1965, photo by Dennis Hopper
Roy Lichtenstein, 1964:
Roy Lichtenstein, 1964, photo by Dennis Hopper
Bruce Conner, 1964:
Bruce Conner, 1964:, photo by Dennis Hopper
Bruce Conner in bath tub, 1964 and Donald Factor, grandson of Max factor, 1964:
Bruce Conner in bath tub, 1964Donald Factor, grandson of Max factor, 1964, photo by Dennis Hopper
Larry Bell, 1964:
Larry Bell, 1964, photo by Dennis Hopper
Ed Ruscha, 1964:
Ed Ruscha, 1964, photo by Dennis Hopper
James Rosenquist in front of his painting, 1964:
James Rosenquist in front of his painting, 1964, photo by Dennis Hopper
art dealer Robert Fraser in Tijuana, 1965:
art dealer Robert Fraser in Tijuana, 1965
Robert Rauschenberg, 1966:
Robert Rauschenberg, 1966, photo by Dennis Hopper
David Hockney (with painting of his father), 2007:
David Hockney (with painting of his father), 2007, photo by Dennis Hopper

He befriended art dealers, gallery owners and continued to mix with such well-known contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst and Julian Schnabel all his life.


above: Hopper’s surrounded by his art collection which includes Warhols, Basquiat, Banksy, Rauschenbergs, and the plate painting by Julian Schnabel, amongst others. (photo from Telegraph UK)

above: Dennis received the skull for his 72nd birthday from artist Damien Hirst (photo from Telegraph UK)

The respect was mutual and several artists and photographers created their own portraits of Dennis Hopper.

Hopper by other Artists & Photographers
Julian Schnabel’s Plate painting of Hopper:
Julian Schnabel's Plate painting of HopperJulian Schnabel's Plate painting of Hopper
Andy Warhol’s Polaroids of Hopper:
Andy Warhol, Polaroid of Dennis HopperAndy Warhol, Polaroid of Dennis Hopper
Andy Warhol used his Polaroids of Dennis for various silkscreens, like the 1971 one below:
Andy Warhol, 1971 Silkscreen of Dennis Hopper
Vicktor Skrebneski, 1990:
Dennis Hopper by Vicktor Skrebneski, 1990
Jerome Bonet, 2009:
Dennis Hopper, Jerome Bonet, 2009
Guy Webster:
Dennis Hopper by Guy WebsterDennis Hopper by Guy Webster
Terry Richardson:
Dennis Hopper by Terry Richardson
Dennis Hopper by Terry Richardson

Hopper’s silver Gelatin Prints
Hopper also photographed the world around him and made stunning silver gelatin prints of his editorial and voyeuristic photos of places and people.

Double Standard, 1961:
Dennis Hopper, Double Standard, 1961
Daily News, 1961:
Dennis Hopper, Daily News, 1961
Biker Couple, 1961:
Dennis Hopper, Biker Couple, 196
Biker, 1961:
Dennis Hopper, Biker, 1961
Bad Heart (downtown Los Angeles), 1961:
Dennis Hopper, Bad Heart (downtown Los Angeles), 1961
Kennedy suite 1-8, 1963:
Dennis Hopper, Kennedy suite 1-8, 1963
Fractured Girl (billboard), 1964:
Dennis Hopper, Fractured Girl (billboard), 1964
Paris Woman, 1994:
Dennis Hopper, Paris Woman, 1994

Beginning in 2000, Hopper turned many of his earlier photos from the 60s into large scale oil paintings on vinyl. The installation shots below from Ace gallery give you an idea of the scale.

Dennis Hopper exhibit
Works by Dennis Hopper

Large scale paintings of his photographs
Biker Couple as large scale oil painting, 2000:
Dennis Hopper, Biker Couple as large scale oil painting, 2000
Hopper's Biker Couple as large scale oil painting in situ, 2000
Bill Cosby photograph as an oil painting, 2000:
Dennis Hopper's Bill Cosby photograph as an oil painting, 2000
Daily News Photo turned into Los Angeles Times oil painting, 2000:
Dennis Hopper, Daily News Photo turned into Los Angeles Times oil painting, 2000
Fractured Girl billboard as large scale oil painting, 2000:
Hopper's Fractured Girl billboard as large scale oil painting, 2000
Ed Ruscha photograph as an oil painting, 2002:
Dennis Hopper, Ed Ruscha photograph as an oil painting, 2002
James Rosenquist photo as an oil painting, 2003:
Dennis Hopper's James Rosenquist photo as an oil painting, 2003
Hopper’s portrait of Warhol with flower as an oil painting, 2006:
Hopper's portrait of Warhol with flower as an oil painting, 2006

Miscellaneous works, prints, paintings and installations

After The Fall, 1961-1964:
Dennis Hopper, After The Fall, 1961-1964
Chevy painting, 1956:
Dennis Hopper, Chevy painting, 1956
Bad Heart, goldtone, 1988:
Dennis Hopper, Bad Heart, Goldtone, 1988
Untitled( shredded paper with tire), goldtone, 1988:
Dennis Hopper, Untitled (shredded paper with tire), goldtone, 1988
Space Triptych (at the Ace Gallery), 1996:
Dennis Hopper, Space Triptych (at the Ace Gallery), 1996
King Part Bust Trap, 1991-1997 installation at (the Ace Gallery):
Dennis Hopper, King Part Bust Trap, 1991-1997 installation at (the Ace Gallery)
Chevy 3D installation (at the Ace Gallery), 2000:
Dennis Hopper, Chevy 3D installation (at the Ace Gallery), 2000

Hopper’s Ilfachrome Prints
With an eye for beauty in even the most mundane things, from 1995- 1997 he also created a series of large (approx 4’2″ by 6’3″) ilfochrome (formally cibachrome) prints of building details, textures, posted leaflets and graffiti taken in Morocco, Florence, Venice, Osaka, Prague, Berlin and New York.

view of Dennis Hopper's ilfachrome exhibit at the Ace Gallery
above: view of Hopper’s ilfachrome exhibit at the Ace Gallery

Venice, Man Ray and Berlin, Chrome:
Dennis Hopper, Venice, Man RayDennis Hopper, Berlin, Chrome
Prague, Stick and Florence, Capital:
Dennis Hopper, Prague, StickDennis Hopper, Florence, Capital
Florence, Skull and Morocco, Terra Peel:
by Dennis Hopperby Dennis Hopper
New York, UFO and Osaka, Black:
by Dennis Hopperby Dennis Hopper
Venice, Plaster and Venice Walk, 7:
by Dennis Hopperby Dennis Hopper
Nimes Red Figures, 1996:
Dennis Hopper, Nimes Red Figures, 1996
images in this post are from numerous sources including Vanity Fair, Ace Gallery, Artnet, Taschen, Tony Shafrizi Gallery and Artslant

There is an upcoming retrospective of his work, curated by artist Julian Schnabel who was inspired by Hopper’s fusion of art and film. MOCA, DENNIS HOPPER DOUBLE STANDARD, July 11 – September 26, 2010. Don’t miss it.

Galleries that have much of the work shown in this post available for purchase:
Tony Shafrazi Gallery
Craig Krull Gallery
ACE Gallery Beverly Hills
David Lawrence Gallery

Several wonderful books feature collections of his work.


Books of Dennis Hopper’s Photography available for purchase can be found here

Rent, buy or stream Dennis Hopper movies here