Easy Rider: Dennis Hopper at the MOCA

“It gives you a whole new way of looking at the day,” Dennis Hopper’s character Billy says in the unforgettable film, Easy Rider, which the then 33-year-old Hopper also directed. Billy had marijuana in mind when he said those words, but the same could be said of Hopper’s photography and painting. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles presents Dennis Hopper: Double Standard, the first comprehensive survey of Hopper’s art. Hopper, who passed away on May 29th of this year, never fit into a neat category as an actor or director. His art shares that same elusive quality of boundarilessness born of great breadth and versatility. Hopper rides easily through whatever media he chooses to express himself in, always giving you a new way of looking at the day.


Double Standard features more than 200 works by Hopper, beginning with an early painting from 1955 up through graffiti-inspired wall constructions, large-scale billboard paintings, sculptures, and film installations done in the twenty-first century. Hopper’s heyday, however, remained the freewheeling sixties, during which he embraced the Pop Art movement of Andy Warhol, which seemed a natural progression from Hopper’s earlier interest in the ideas of Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp’s readymades appealed to Hopper’s life-long penchant for taking the world at hand and turning it upside down to make us see it anew.

In the 1961 photograph titled Double Standard (shown), Hopper pointed his camera through the windshield of his car at two Standard Oil signs that stood on Route 66 at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, and North Doheny Drive in Los Angeles. Hopper’s friend, the painter Ed Ruscha, loved the photo so much he asked Hopper to exhibit it at Ruscha’s second solo exhibition at Ferus Gallery in 1964. Double Standard stands at an artistic intersection, between Duchamp’s readymades, Pop Art’s fascination with corporate branding, and the hippie cool that stretched across America like Route 66 itself. It’s enigmatic and iconic all at once, like Hopper himself.

Fellow artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel curates Double Standard. Schnabel, a kindred spirit, calls Hopper “a painter without a brush” who “made film into art” by “tak[ing] the viewer on a high risk journey with him, working without a safety net.” Dennis Hopper: Double Standard demonstrates the truth of the old adage: high risk, high reward. The artist’s recent death adds a somber note to the retrospective, but it is a fitting tribute and a characteristic celebration of who Dennis Hopper was as a person and an artist.

[Image: Dennis Hopper, Double Standard, 1961, gelatin silver print, © The Estate of Dennis Hopper, image courtesy of The Estate of Dennis Hopper and Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York.]

[Many thanks to the The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, for providing me with the image above and press materials for Dennis Hopper: Double Standard, which runs through September 26, 2010.]

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored

Why does turkey make you sleepy?

Is everyone's favorite Thanksgiving centerpiece really to blame for the post-dinner doldrums?

(Photo from Flickr)
Surprising Science
  • Americans kill around 45 million turkeys every year in preparation for the Thanksgiving meal, only to blame our favorite centerpiece for the following food comas.
  • Rumor has it our after-dinner sleepiness results from the tryptophan found in turkey.
  • However, it is the meal's overall nutritional imbalance, not just the tryptophan, that make us want to leave the dishes for tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Why Henry David Thoreau was drawn to yoga

The famed author headed to the pond thanks to Indian philosophy.

Image: Public Domain / Shutterstock / Big Think
Personal Growth
  • The famed author was heavily influenced by Indian literature, informing his decision to self-exile on Walden Pond.
  • He was introduced to these texts by his good friend's father, William Emerson.
  • Yoga philosophy was in America a century before any physical practices were introduced.
Keep reading Show less