Whilst I enjoyed the Matisse exhibition I recently also had a very different, but also enjoyable, exhibition experience. The Dennis Hopper exhibition at the RA includes his photographs of famous friends, playful experimentation and a documentary of the era. Hopper stated that he used photography as a creative outlet which became unnecessary after Easy Rider was made and so the photos stop abruptly since he never carried a camera again.
The titles of the photos are often playful, encouraging you to notice previously overlooked details. They pick out graffiti in a crowded street, advertising in a bull ring and slogans on placards. This continues throughout the large high ceilinged rooms where the photos are displayed densely packed together, creating a sensation of layered experiences. There are hippies and Hell’s Angels alongside Martin Luther King and Andy Warhol, all belonging to the same era and defying clichés.
Through documenting such variety within an American generation Hopper appears to sympathise with all his subjects whilst remaining an outsider.
I’ve never actually watched Easy Rider but the clip which was included in the exhibition (and is also below) has made me want to watch it as soon as possible. The sudden outburst of colour in comparison to the walls of black and white photographs made the scene even more visually outstanding.
The exhibition remains open until 19th October and is well worth a visit by both those who are Dennis Hopper fans and those who have never heard of him before.