Dennis Hopper, (American, 1936-2010)
Mixed media sculpture
"Outmolding Older Concepts (Wilhold Up the Mirror)", 1961, photo and assemblage,
Ace gallery and Easy Rider Production labels verso 27"h x 40"w x 5"d.
There is broken mirror glued into the wooden collage box with the ceramic head that is attached to the front. I assume that is how it was made.
Provenance: Estate of Pentti Kouri, NYC; Ace Gallery, Los Angeles; Exhibited MOCA, Los Angeles, 2010
From a 1997 interview with Hopper where he references this piece "Right now it's very intense. I had a show that travelled Germany, about 15 different museums. Sunday we go to Denmark; I'm showing the early assemblage I did in 1961 which was the signal for conceptual art. I'm just two days there, then I'm going to Venice to meet Julian Schnabel - Count Volpe's given us a place to paint in Giudecca. Then I'm going to Documenta in Germany to hang another show, then I go back to LA on the 21st and start a film on the 23rd."
Notes/Literature: Dr. Pentti Kouri(1949-2009) was a Finnish economist and venture capitalist with partner George Soros. He built his prestigious art collection with the goal of opening a private art foundation focused on his interests in Minimalism, Arte Povera, Conceptual and Text-based art. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Dia Art Foundation, and on the boards of Tate, London and the Guggenheim Museum, New York. In addition, a portion of his collection forms the core of the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland
Hopper made his film debut alongside James Dean in 1955's Rebel Without a Cause. Both lost souls from dysfunctional households, they gravitated to each other, smoked dope and took joy rides. When Dean died, Hopper saw himself as the natural inheritor of his rebellious mantle and, revelling in his nickname of "Dennis the Menace", gave it to Hollywood with both barrels; so they dropped him. Dennis didn't make another Hollywood movie for seven years.
Frustrated by the deliberate stifling of his film career, Dennis turned to art and photography for creative stimulus, beginning with abstract subjects such as landscapes. His cutting-edge conceptual art became established round the world, with exhibitions in major cities. At home in the dining room stood one particularly interesting work, a white plastic box, eight feet long, that had an aluminium shaft sticking out of it, and two very large balls. It was called The Perpetual Erection Machine. Before Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst, there was Dennis.
In 1961, Hopper took part in an international photography competition in Australia with a contribution of five abstract photos, which he called Pieces. He won first place.
Soon after, Hopper married Hayward, daughter of the film producer Leland Hayward, whose credits include The Sound of Music and South Pacific. The wedding party of Hopper and Hayward was held in August at the apartment of actress Jane Fonda, a childhood friend of Hayward, who introduced Hopper to her younger brother Peter Fonda. Their daughter Marin was born in 1961, and they moved to Bel Air, California. Soon afterward the famous Bel Air fire destroyed their home, including approximately three-hundred Abstract Expressionist works and hundreds of pages of poetry that Hopper had begun in the mid-1950s. Hopper and his actor friends Dean Stockwell and Russ Tamblyn were close to many artists in California, especially assemblage artists Edward Kienholz, Wallace Berman, and George Herms, and artist/filmmaker Bruce Conner. As Hopper was denied work in film, he turned increasingly to his own artistic investigations. He started assembling objects with photographs (photo-assemblages) and conceptually questioning the relationships between “reality,” “illusion,” and “representation,” sometimes working under the guidance of Kienholz. “I was recording objects -in a photograph- and using the object the way it functioned, and then affixing the object itself to the record of the object, and using light and recreating the light of the real object, recreating the light in the gallery and having the record of the way it looked using natural light and raw canvas.” Hopper became a key figure in the L.A. art scene in the early 1960s, and his black-and-white photographs of artist friends were used occasionally for posters and announcements for the Ferus Gallery or for the covers of the magazine Artforum.
In 1963, Henry Geldzahler, curator of twentieth-century art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, introduced Hopper to Andy Warhol. Coincidentally, the meeting occurred on the very day Warhol introduced the young British artist David Hockney to Geldzahler. A few months later, Warhol mounted An Exhibition by Andy Warhol at Ferus Gallery in L.A., showing his silkscreen paintings of Elvis