Christie’s to Auction Art from the Collection of Dennis Hopper

Christie’s New York have announced the sale of artworks Property from the Collection of Dennis Hopper during its Post-War & Contemporary Evening and Day Sales in New York on November 10 and 11, 2010. The late Hopper, who fused film with fine art throughout his influential 60-year career, culled a comprehensive collection of contemporary art; including prized works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The actor-artist’s collection is expected to realize over $10 million.

Under the tutelage of James Dean, who he acted alongside in Rebel Without a Cause in 1955, Hopper took an interest in the arts early on, from photography to painting, assemblage and sculpture. With Dean’s encouragement, underscored by a vigor for all things anti-establishment, Hopper pursued his own art as well as collected the works of then-fledgling artists such as Warhol, Basquiat, Claes Oldenburg, Julian Schnabel and Richard Prince. He counted many contemporary artists as friends and creative peers. Hopper’s seminal Easy Rider — the 1969 film about two counterculture bikers that travel cross country in search of America, which he wrote starred in and directed alongside Peter Fonda and a young Jack Nicholson — earned him respect in both acting and artistic circles. He went on to act in several paradigm-shifting films, such as Blue Velvet opposite Isabella Rossellini and Apocalypse Now, opposite Marlon Brando.

Hopper once said: “I am just a middle-class farm boy from Dodge City… I thought painting, acting directing and photography was all part of being an artist. I have made my money that way and I have had some fun. It has not been a bad life.”

Hopper was on the forefront of the Pop Art movement, and was noted for buying Warhol’s first Campbell Soup can for $75, at the artist’s first show in Los Angeles. The works of Wallace Berman and Bruce Connor, that Hopper collected derive from a beatnik generation aesthetic. Other artists whose work he collected include Donald Baechler, John Baldessari, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Robert Rauschenberg. This summer, Julian Schnabel, whose work Hopper also collected, curated Dennis Hopper Double Standard, Hopper’s first, comprehensive museum survey exhibition in the U.S. at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Hopper has had monographic exhibitions outside the U.S., but being appreciated in his own country was insurmountable to him, as he supported mostly American artists himself.

“Dennis Hopper went from cultural icon with Easy Rider to a multi-faceted artist and art collector,” said Cathy Elkies, Director of Private and Corporate Collections at Christie’s. “His relationships with artists reflect his dynamism and forward-thinking.”

Andrew Massad Senior Vice President and International Contemporary Specialist at Christie’s, called Hopper an influential free spirit. “Hopper had a fierce individualism and he was an auteur in the realm of popular culture,” said Massad. “He was always his own man and he collected works that linked to his life and his lifestyle. He lived the art. He was part of the moment.”

Highlights from The Collection of Dennis Hopper include Basquiat’s Untitled 1987, executed in acrylic, oil stick and graphite (estimate: $5,000,000-$7,000,000) as well as Warhol’s Portrait of Dennis Hopper, 1971 in synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink (estimate: $800,000 -$1,200,000) in shades of blue, gray and ecru. The two works will be presented for sale at Christie’s Post-War &Contemporary Evening Sale on November 10.

An additional single-owner section from the Hopper estate will be featured at the Post-War & Contemporary Days sale the following day.

Christie’s will host a sale of prints, smaller works and other memorabilia from The Collection of Dennis Hopper, in January 2011 during Christie’s Interiors Sale.

Image: Andy Warhol, Dennis Hopper, 1971. Synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas, 40 x 40 inches. Estimate: $800,000 -1,200,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2010.

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