Photographer Spotlight: Dennis Hopper [VIDEO]

By Michael KurcfeldMay 22, 2014

Photographer Spotlight: Dennis Hopper [VIDEO]
Dennis Hopper was one of Hollywood’s most enduring bad boys, whose multiple talents included a keen instinct for hanging out with the coolest kids (from James Dean to Andy Warhol). His ascent as a photographer reached its first peak in 2010 in “Dennis Hopper Double Standard” at MOCA (curated by Julian Schnabel), but the news continues to spread. Next month, London’s Royal Academy of Art will unveil “Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album.” Apart from his exuberant side roads into abstraction, personal travel scenes and witty urban detail, Hopper was an inadvertent chronicler of a seminal period of LA culture high-to-low, stars to bikers. But it was not just a case of being in the right milieu at the right time, though that didn’t hurt the lasting resonance of many of his images; he had an unerring knack for knowing what to aim at and when to pull the trigger. His appetite for edgy drama, and his wily humor, fed into both careers.

Marin Hopper, the daughter of Dennis and model-socialite Brooke Hayward, grew up in the 1960s in anointed company from the overlapping Los Angeles scenes of art, movies, fashion and music. And she witnessed first-hand her father’s passion for photographing much of that life, and those future cultural icons as hell-raising  youths. On the occasion of last month’s Paris Photo LA tribute exhibition and screening of Hopper’s aptly titled The Last Movie (the last film he would direct), we decided to speak with Ms. Hopper about her father’s work with a still camera. Her testimony was of course less critique than loving reminiscence, including a wonderful anecdote (too long for this video) about the crushing disappointment at age 7 of being refused her first entry into Disneyland because of her father’s hippie-length hair. Hopper didn't just shoot Zeitgeist, he lived it.


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LARB Contributor

Michael Kurcfeld is a journalist, originally from the print world, but since 1990 working in electronic media. Since founding Stonehenge Media, he has produced film and arts coverage for,, Huffington Post, PBS, Bravo, Yahoo Movies, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, and He produces the Photographer Spotlight series for the Los Angeles Review of Books.


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