Thursday, 12 November 2009

Dennis Hopper opens exhibiton with video message

Dennis Hopper in Crash
Crash. Image courtesy Lions Gate TV & Starz Entertainment
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) last night officially opened Dennis Hopper and the New Hollywood, a major Australian exclusive exhibition direct from the Cinémathèque Française in Paris.

The exhibition is an expansive showcase of an extraordinary man's life's work, his collaborations and personal art collection, and an amazing insight into a formative era of Hollywood.

ACMI Director Tony Sweeney said at the opening that the show was an honour to stage.

"Dennis Hopper - the man, the maverick, the actor, director, artist, photographer, art collector and counter-culture icon. Dennis Hopper and the New Hollywood connects us to the pivotal film and art moments of the past fifty years through this extraordinary man. In this unique exhibition, Dennis Hopper's remarkable body of work is put into context," he said. "Through it we trace the paradoxes of an America undergoing transformation - from pop culture to suburban subculture, psychedelia to slam poetry, rebellion to disillusionment."

"ACMI is honoured to open this exhibition and to have worked so closely with the Cinémathèque française to bring it to Melbourne," said Mr Sweeney.

From his Los Angeles home, Dennis Hopper said it is honour to look back on his life via this exhibition, contextualised by the people he has met and the events he has witnessed.

"This show is about a time, a place, and my work; in film as an actor, director, writer and improviser," said Mr Hopper.

"As a painter, photographer, collector and model; from commercials to experimental films and from the most expensive movies ever made to the cheapest, I have always tried to keep my integrity and be an alchemist in my own way. I live and have lived at an exceptional time with exceptional people. We changed the direction of things as impermanently as possible," he said.

Hopper was forced to cancel his Melbourne visit after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and will remain at home to focus on his treatment. Last night, Hopper greeted crowds at the official opening via video message.

Mr Sweeney last night echoed Hopper's regret at not being able to attend the opening.

"He was very much looking forward to visiting Melbourne and was very disappointed not to have been able to travel. We of course understand that his health is the number one priority and we wish him very well," he said.

While Hopper is regarded primarily as an actor-director, he is essentially a full-spectrum artist who adopts many creative mediums for his work. As a 'New Hollywood' visionary and actor, Hopper has occupied a key place in American cultural production from the 1950s to today. Since his entree into the arts scene in the early 1960s and the success of his directorial debut in Easy Rider (1969), he has collaborated with a vast range of artists, musicians, actors, architects and filmmakers.

Over the past fifty years Hopper has worked with some of most provocative, innovative and well-known artists around the world including Francis Ford Coppola, Marcel Duchamp, Frank Gehry, Jack Nicholson, David Lynch and Wim Wenders.

Film and television projects in which Hopper has both directed and starred feature through the exhibition including clips from films such as Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Blue Velvet (1986), Apocalypse Now (1968), Colors (1988) and the Australian production Mad Dog Morgan (1976) which has been added to ACMI's exhibition, alongside producer's notes and props from the film. The exhibition opens with a film starring Hopper, commissioned especially for the exhibition, called I Remember and excerpts from rare films and screen tests by Andy Warhol also feature throughout.

Although primarily known for his screen work, Hopper is also a painter, sculptor and prolific photographer, and has exhibited worldwide. He has taken portraits of artists (many of whom he counts as friends) such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Julian Schnabel, published covers for magazines including Vogue and Artforum and documented hundreds of artistic performances, graffiti-sites and political uprisings. Hopper is the photographer behind some of the world's most recognised images of icons like Martin Luther King Jnr, Bill Cosby, Paul Newman, Jane Fonda and James Brown. For the ACMI showing, audiences will be treated to a never-before-exhibited collection of Polariods taken by Hopper in the early '90s.

Hopper has also lent his exceptional private collection of contemporary art to this exhibition. His own work is shown alongside paintings, photographs and sculptures by major American artists such as Andy Warhol, Bruce Connor, Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns, Franz Kline, George Herms, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel, contextualising a time of radical experimentation and change in the art world and in American society.

Dennis Hopper and the New Hollywood was originally produced by the Cinémathèque française, in association with Dennis Hopper and Easy Rider Productions, and curated by Matthieu Orlean.

The exhibition is complimented by public programs and film seasons, including a contextual film season Focus on Hopper's America (3 - 13 December) and an extended run of the recently restored Easy Rider to celebrate the film's 40th anniversary (26 December to 18 January).

The exhibition opens at the end of what has been a busy year for ACMI. The centre has recently seen the results of a long-term development project, with the opening of a permanent exhibition, additional galleries and a screen culture resource centre and, most recently, the announcement that in 2010 the Centre will host direct from MoMA in New York, Tim Burton - an exhibition presented as part of the Victorian Government's Melbourne Winter Masterpieces initiative.

Dennis Hopper and the New Hollywood exhibits at ACMI from Thursday 12 November 2009 until Sunday 25 April 2010.

"An exceptional exhibition" Elle

"Mythical figure of the Sixties, Dennis Hopper remains for many people the enlightened outsider of Easy Rider and Apocalypse Now. But behind the enfant terrible of New Hollywood is hidden an aesthete, photographer, painter and amateur of contemporary art.Re-visit the multiple lives of Mister Hopper." Rolling Stone

"Visiting the exhibition . brings the sense of plunging into the great history of American counter-culture, from its origins to today. Actor, director, photographer, painter and collector of art, Dennis Hopper embodies .a legendary figure of all the anti-conformist movements that have changed the face of America throughout the second half of the 20th Century, and disrupted the order of the world." Le Parisien

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
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