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Christie's New York Announces Highlights of Dennis Hopper Sale
Jean-Michel Basquiat’, Untitled 1987, executed in acrylic, oil stick and graphite. Estimate: $5,000,000-7,000,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s presents The Dennis Hopper Collection. A veritable master within a range of categories, Dennis Hopper was at once an artist, a filmmaker, an actor, and a passionate art collector. Amassing more than 250 works of art throughout his lifetime, Hopper’s collection includes prime examples of the world’s foremost Post-War & Contemporary artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Wallace Berman and Bruce Conner. Thirty-five works from The Dennis Hopper Collection will be offered at the Christie’s New York Post-War & Contemporary Evening and Day Sales in New York on November 10 and 11, 2010. An additional 200 works from the collection including those by Annie Leibovitz, Kenny Scharf and Cindy Sherman will be offered in Christie’s Interiors sale in January 2011. The Dennis Hopper Collection is expected to realize between $9 and $13 million.

Dennis Hopper (1936-2010), began painting at around the same time as he started his acting in 1953, when he landed a role as Lorenzo in a stage production of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. During the play’s production Hopper became inspired by his co-star Vincent Price, who was a keen collector of Abstract Expressionist Art by the likes of Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock and Richard Diebenkorn. Price acted as a as a mentor to the young actor, encouraging him to collect and pursue fine art as well as acting. Two years later Hopper starred in Rebel Without a Cause, opposite James Dean, who became another integral figure in his life. With a growing appetite for art and expressing his multiple talents, Hopper began to paint, draw, sculpt and photograph in addition to acting. Easy Rider, the 1969 countercultural landmark film, which Hopper co-wrote and directed, catapulted him into even more powerful echelons in Hollywood. He subsequently starred in several paradigm-shifting films including Apocalypse Now, alongside Marlon Brando and Blue Velvet, opposite Isabella Rossellini. Later in life he starred in Showtime’s series Crash.

Hopper’s art-world affiliations were no less impressive. An early adopter of Pop Art, he became close with Andy Warhol, who deeply influenced his understanding of art. Also part of Hopper’s inner circle were Irving Blum of the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles and dealer Bruno Bischofberger. Hopper’s art collection was intrinsic to his life. As he evolved through his life, his collection did as well.

“Dennis Hopper was the consummate creator. From the seminal Easy Rider and his involvement in a cavalcade of iconoclastic and age-defining films, to his own art and the works that filled his homes, Dennis was creative in all aspects of his life,” said Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas. “His pensive, personal collection of art reflected his strong, deep bonds with the artists whose work he collected. From Warhol, who painted Dennis’ portrait, to Rauschenberg, who gave him personal pieces over the years, this collection gives insight into Dennis as an individual, and celebrates his lifetime commitment to fine and performing arts”

Cathy Elkies, Senior Vice President, Director of Collections at Christie’s noted: “Dennis Hopper was that rare combination of artist, celebrity and collector. Where the value of many celebrity collections lie in the attribution, Hopper collected art by up-and-coming and established artists that have withstood the test of time. His insider access gave him entrée to the world of collecting, but his keen eye and aesthetic drive molded a collection that is personal, meaningful and ultimately, significant to the market.”

The top lot in The Dennis Hopper Collection is Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled 1987, executed in acrylic, oil stick and graphite, (estimate: $5,000,000-7,000,000) and will be offered in Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Evening Sale on November 10, 2010. The stylized composition is coated in numerous images such as figures, visages, text and mixed media. The visual use of text riffs from the textual “cut-up” style of Beat Generation writer William Burroughs in the 1950s. The other iconic work for the Evening Sale is Andy 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. Warhol photographed Hopper, immortalizing his friend and subject in the vein of his other famous subjects including James Dean.

Post-War & Contemporary Day Sale highlights include Keith Haring’s Moses and the Burning Bush, 1985, (estimate: $400,000-600,000), an explosive, large-scale composition in hues of orange, purple, red and yellow, that Hopper has purchased at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York in 1986. No One Knows Why, 1997 a work from John Baldessari’s Goya Series (estimate: $250,000-350,000), is another noteworthy piece in the Post-War & Contemporary Day Sale. The mixed media composition shows a pair if glasses, above typeface with the title of the work and strongly suggests the influence of Marcel Duchamp.

Hopper met first met Marcel Duchamp at the artist’s retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1963. Inspired by the readymade in that same year, Duchamp created the piece to be offered in the Day Sale named Hotel Green (Entrance), 1963 (estimate: $40,000-60,000). Made from a stolen sign of the same name, the work asks the question of the status of the creative artist via the image of a pointing finger.

Hopper friend Julian Schnabel created many works for the actor, including Portrait of Dennis Hopper 1999, (estimate: $150,000-200,000), a stylized portrait of Hopper against a light green background in his signature style of oil on crockery with bondo over plywood. Bodyhammer Clock, 1993 by Robert Longo, (estimate: $120,000-180,000), depicting a forward-facing hand gun and was acquired by Hopper from Galerie Hans Meyer in Dusseldorf, Germany is another day sale standout.

Dennis Hopper was keen on building collection of West Coast artists and The Dennis Hopper Collection includes groups from several important artists such as Bruce Conner, Wallace Berman and David Salle. Hopper’s admirable 18 work collection of Bruce Conners, boasts Conner’s Mirror Collage, 1960 (estimate:$20,000-30,0000), which depicts a broken glass and a small portrait of a woman collaged at center. There are four works by David Salle including Bartons, 1997 (estimate: $120,000-180,000), a composition, such as a featuring a roller-skating bear and a woman holding a violin and a vase of flowers.

Kenney Scharf’s Vivid Vision, 1991 (estimate: $80,000-120,000) is an explosion of images in vibrant hues of purple, blue and green. Robert Rauschenberg, a close friend of Hopper, has several works in The Dennis Hopper Collection. One such work is Lemon Junction Late Summer Glut, 1987 (estimate: $300,00-400,000) a wall mounted assemblage made of found metal, a sign with letters JCT and electric light.

The Interiors Sale on January 11, 2011 includes a variety of works from top artists from The Dennis Hopper Collection Photographer Annie Leibovitz’s Portrait of Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken, 1995 (estimate: $3,000-5,000), shows a shirtless hopper sitting besides his fellow actor, Walken. Both men are in a state of pondering. Viggo Mortenson, who like Hopper practices both acting and fine arts was also a close friend of Hopper. Mortenson’s Mother Memory, 1997 (estimate: $3,000-$5,000) an oil and collage on canvas work depicting Exene Cervenka, singer of the LA punk rock band X, who was married to Mortensen in the late 1980's. Hopper also had a close kinship with George Herms, whom created many pieces for him. Once such work is named Song for Hope, 1986 (estimate $6,000-8,000) a mixed media assemblage of objects such as a metal barrel, wire fencing, wood shelved and an old Pachinko machine.

Christie's | The Dennis Hopper Collection | ean-Michel Basquiat | Andy Warhol |

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