Dennis Hopper co-produces hit exhibitions at Taos museum
TAOS, N.M. – To mark his years in Taos, his long-time friendships forged there, and the 40th anniversary of the release of the quintessential ‘60s counterculture film Easy Rider, actor/artist Dennis Hopper has teamed with The Harwood Museum of Art in presenting two special exhibitions during Taos’ Summer of Love celebrations.
Hopper at the Harwood, which opened over the weekend after a previous, sold-out Artist Reunion Dinner Party, consists of an exhibition focusing on Hopper’s own work – titled Selected Photographs and Paintings – and a second, titled Forty Years of Friendship: LA to Taos, which is an homage to the work of Hopper’s compatriots Larry Bell, Ron Cooper, Ronald Davis, Ken Price and Robert Dean Stockwell. The exhibitions – both of which were curated by Hopper – will run through Sept. 20, 2009.
The love affair between the legendary actor and the north-central New Mexico town of Taos began in 1968. Hopper was there directing Easy Rider, a film that looked so real and felt so raw, it helped define a social movement and, some say, changed the way the nation saw itself.
For the next 15 years, Hopper made Taos his home base, taking up residence at the Mabel Dodge Luhan house and continuing Mabel’s tradition of hosting the brightest and surely the most offbeat of his generation. But before Taos, and before Easy Rider, Hopper had been part of the vibrant modern art movement forming in Los Angeles.
As a chronicler of the scene, he worked as a photographer, and also collected the early work of his artist friends Bell, Price, Cooper, Davis and Stockwell, among many others. Once Hopper established himself in Taos, however, a slow but steady migration of these L.A. artists began, drawing to Taos the third wave of internationally recognized artists after the “Taos Founders” (1898-1920s) and the “Taos Moderns” (1939-1950s).
Aesthetically, Hopper is a significant American photographer, and the 13 images that make up the Selected Photographs and Paintings exhibition, most dating from the 1960s, demonstrate his rich narrative ability with a single-lens reflex camera. In the featured portraits there is fierce support and admiration for the individual, and the silver gelatin prints serve to demonstrate a convincing love, not only of his craft, but for those he photographed. Especially memorable is his 1961 Biker Couple, a California
Hopper continues to work in film and television and is currently a regular in the Starz TV series Crash, being shot in New Mexico, and based on the Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. Last year, he was awarded France’s Order of Arts and Literature in recognition of significant contributions to those fields. In October 2008, the Cinematheque Française mounted a major retrospective of Hopper’s work as an artist, actor, filmmaker and art collector. And he is the first living American to exhibit at the fabled Hermitage Gallery in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Hopper currently shows in major art galleries and museums around the world, and though primarily known as an actor and filmmaker, he continues to make his mark as a painter and photographer.
The companion show, Forty Years of Friendship: LA to Taos, features work collected by Hopper and pieces still in the collections of the artists. Larry Bell is represented with five pieces, spanning from 1962 to 2008, including his ground-breaking vacuum-coated and vapor drawing series. Ronald Davis’ five pieces also span more than 40 years. Ron Cooper has nine pieces in the exhibit, including Tantric Vision a powerful oil on canvas from 1991. Robert Dean Stockwell shows several paper collage works, while Ken Price’s contributions are of acrylic, ink and colored pencil media.
Hopper at the Harwood will run through Sept. 20, 2009. The Harwood Museum of Art is located at 238 Ledoux St. in Taos, New Mexico. For additional information call 575-758-9826 or visit www.harwoodmuseum.org.
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