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by Anna Carnick

Inspired by his friend James Dean, Dennis Hopper explains his new monograph this way, “I was doing something that I thought could have some impact someday. In many ways, it’s really these photographs that kept me going creatively."

In 1955, an 18-year-old Hopper met 24-year-old Dean on the set of Rebel Without a Cause and the two became immediately inseparable. Prior to his death, in fact, it was Dean who advised Hopper to start taking photographs. Who knows if Dean had any idea where his suggestion might lead, but on the eve of the book's release, it’s clear the art world is better for it.

In recent years, Hopper the photographer has even eclipsed Hopper as a film star at times and the publication shows that photography has been a pillar of Hopper’s creative world for decades. Featuring several previously unpublished photographs, the 400 images (culled from thousands) make for a dramatic visual treatment of the 1960s, reflecting a world in flux—politically, socially and artistically. From the civil rights march at Selma to the art world’s electricity to grittier, urban street scenes, from politicians to writers to artists to complete strangers, Hopper’s camera captured an era. His photos also reveal the circles in which he himself moved, with intimate portraits of personalities like Andy Warhol, James Dean, Tina Turner, Paul Newman and Jane Fonda. Insightful essays plus interviews with Hopper, his famous subjects, friends and family add another layer of indulgence to the experience.

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Pictured at left, Bruce Conner (in tub), Toni Basil, Teri Garr and Ann Marshall, 1965.

Hopper’s photographs unarguably share the same intensity and intelligence that marked his film career for over five decades. It makes it difficult to completely separate his cinematic career from his photographic career—but really, why should we? As Walter Hopps writes in the book, “His good pictures seem in the best sense like films, as these evocative recordings of his experiences and his travels.”

Each of the 1,500 limited-edition copies comes signed and numbered by Hopper. The Art Edition, limited to just 100 copies, includes a signed, original print.

A collection of Hopper’s never-before-seen “billboard paintings,” pre-'67 photos of twentieth century art world icons and select video excerpts from Hopper’s film and television career are currently showing in NYC. See details below.

Pre-order the book Amazon.

“Signs of the Times”
Through 24 October 2009
Shafrazi Gallery
544 W 26th Street
New York, NY 10001 map
+ 1 212 274 9300

See more images after the jump.

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Jane Fonda (with bow & arrow), Malibu , 1965

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Self-portrait at porn stand, 1962

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Paul Newman, 1964

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