Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dennis Hopper & the New Hollywood

Yeah, I've been absent from the blogosphere longer than intended. I'm still having problems getting my PC set-up and life also intrudes on occasions. Health-wise, I'm getting back on track. I commuted by bicycle twice this week, more than I have since July, and both days were in mid-30s weather, which I've never done before. I'm feeling pretty good about that.

Another thing I'm feeling pretty good about is attending a preview of ACMI's latest exhibition, Dennis Hopper and the New Hollywood. Hopper is a person I've always found intriguing. From his early ground-breaking film, Easy Rider (which I saw on the big screen as a teenager) to his memorable performance as Frank Booth, the ultimate psychopath in David Lynch's Blue Velvet, Hopper has always stood out.

In the last year, ACMI has screened a couple of films that I made a point of seeing because of Hopper's involvement: Mad Dog Morgan and Night Tide, and I thoroughly enjoyed both (and they both feature in ACMI's exhibition).

What I never realised is how voluminous and varied Hopper's career has been. Not only has he acted, directed and written for the screen but, for some five decades he's been photographing, creating art, sculpture, and collaborating with others. Selections of his work, curated by the French Cinémathèque's Matthieu Orleán are on show, along with pieces by other artists from Hopper's private collection.

I was surprised at the depth and breadth of Hopper's work. It's so varied in scale, style and media. There's a huge sculpture, an over-sized bomb-release. There's massive realist painting, smaller works, abstract, collage, photography of celebrities, friends and the seemingly mundane. There's information posted that puts Hopper's work in context with what was happening at the time, and in context to his life's work.

What stands out is that Hopper is an individualst, an outsider who has always carved his own path and seems not to be particularly motivated by fame or fortune, but rather by the creative process, surrounding himself with like-minded people, and collaborating with them.

The exhibition includes numerous clips and short films, and ACMI's screenings of Easy Rider and the Focus on Hopper's America should really enhance this exhibition. I highly recommend it.


Glenn said...

How wild is Mad Dog Morgan! It was funny hearing all the stories about it in Not Quite Hollywood too.

Alice said...

Mad Dog Morgan freaked me OUT! How's that for rape and bloodshed - not to mention Hopper was apparently off the hook drunk the entire shoot.

And although I'd studied scenes from Easy Rider, I only recently watched the film from woe to go. What a trip (bad pun intended!). I found it quite cheesy, but absolutely beautifully shot. There was a sunset shot that was straight out of Antonioni.

Oh to be in Melbourne :)