Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Property from the Dennis Hopper Collection
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Dennis Hopper

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Dennis Hopper
stamped twice with The Estate of Andy Warhol stamps and numbered twice 'P050.415' (on the overlap and on the stretcher)
synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas
40 x 40 in. (101.6 x 101.6 cm.)
Painted in 1971.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., New York
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London
Froehlich Collection, Stuttgart
Anon. sale; Christie's New York, 13 May 1998, lot 389
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
D. Bourdon, Warhol, New York, 1989, p. 342, no. 274 (illustrated).
T. Shafrazi, ed., Andy Warhol Portraits, New York, 2007, p. 74 (illustrated in color).
S. King-Nero and N. Printz, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Paintings and Sculptures 1970-1974, vol. 03, New York, 2010, p. 096, no. 2150 (illustrated in color).
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Andy Warhol: Portraits of the 70s, November 1979-January 1980, p. 67 (illustrated in color).
Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art; London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery and Bilbao, Sala de Exposiciones, Andy Warhol, Portraits of the Seventies and Eighties, November 1993-August 1994, p. 37, no. 1 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Cinémathèque Française and Melbourne, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Dennis Hopper and the New Hollywood, October 2008-April 2010, p. 60 (illustrated in color).


In Dennis Hopper Andy Warhol surpasses portraiture and instead creates a work that reflects large cultural forces in America. As the counterculture 1960s ended and 1970s dawned, the nation reckoned with the loss of earlier Post-War values. Warhol was obsessed with Hollywood and its celebrity denizens were a critical lodestar for him, even informing his own films and Interview magazine. The subjects he chose for his first silkscreens were likenesses of Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, and Troy Donahue, their youthful faces shining in posed studio photos, replicated in garishly colored multiple images. Warhol portrayed Hopper in a far grittier and more naturalistic way than he did those well-scrubbed teenybopper actors, yet the painting is just as magnetically and commercially appealing. In this work, Warhol abandoned the Easter-egg tones of his earlier celebrity portraits and adopted a very cool image of Hopper as a cowboy, the ultimate masculine American archetype. Dennis Hopper juxtaposes multiple themes and identities: Warhol and portraiture, film and painting, Warhol and Hopper as artists and auteurs, representation and iconography.

Warhol created the present work in 1970-1971 as a latter part of a series commissioned for the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX (which never materialized). For this series, Warhol abandoned serialized, full-body representations of such figures as Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley, and focused on the face and head, like those of his female subjects, Marilyn, Liz, and Jackie. Warhol developed a color-blocking technique, adding emphasis and cropping; it became a favored stylistic device in his 1970s portraits.

Warhol based this image on a still from the Hopper's film The Last Movie (1971), Hopper's second directorial effort after his groundbreaking anti-establishment Easy Rider (1969). The film's plot is metacinematic - a movie within a movie. A film shoot goes awry in Peru, and a wrangler, Hopper's character, gives up his career to live there in an unspoiled existence. However, circumstances force him to go back to filmmaking to restore order in the village. Warhol may have aligned his choice of image to the commission at hand, but he also might have appreciated the way the movie treated various levels of artifice and reality. Warhol was quite committed to making deadpan movies that show little action, such as Eat, Sleep, Kiss of 1963 or no action, such as Empire (1964) which did not differentiate between art and reality. Moreover, Hopper, who appears in Warhol's screen tests as a clean-cut teen, has been transformed into an anti-hero, a reluctant heartthrob, a marked contrast from the macho Marlon and cool Elvis of the 1960s.

In the fall of 1963, Warhol drove cross-country to Los Angeles to attend his second show at the Ferus Gallery. He motored west on Route 66, crossing Oklahoma and Texas and spending the last night of the trip in Palm Springs, in his first cross-country drive. The variable landscapes of the south and west struck Warhol, but the artificial Los Angeles landscape excited him most. Warhol repeatedly said, "Oh, this is America!" In the present work, we do not see the Western landscape, the cowboy's typical backdrop. However, Warhol implies it in his portrayal of Hopper. Hopper's costume, Stetson hat and denim jacket, signifies the American West, and the star's wind-tossed hair - eyes fixed on an unknown horizon - further insinuate "the Western". Hopper's searching, vulnerable and stoic gaze adds a new wrinkle to the cowboy archetype. In a certain way, a new era had begun for both artist and actor. Hopper actively participated in the 1970s American New Wave cinema, where realism and naturalism reigned, where unvarnished truth was valued, and open-endedness and freedom were favored over judgment and conformity. Warhol renewed his focus on portraits; he emphasized the absences surrounding the subjects, what is not shown or spoken, what has been elided - precisely the indicators of time and space traditional portraiture required - adding to the 1970s portraits' poignancy, even at their most controversial or glamorous.