Warhol and Basquiat to star in Christie's $10m Dennis Hopper art sale

Christie's is offering artworks from the Collection of Dennis Hopper during its Post-War & Contemporary Evening and Day Sales in New York on November 10-11. 

The late Hopper, who fused film with fine art throughout his influential 60-year career, amassed a comprehensive collection of contemporary art, including prized works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. 

The actor-artist's collection is expected to realise 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 passion 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. 

Actor and artist Dennis Hopper

He also 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.

Hopper went on to act in several paradigm-shifting films, such as David Lynch's Blue Velvet opposite Isabella Rossellini and Apocalypse Now, opposite Marlon Brando.

The actor 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.

Highlights from The Collection of Dennis Hopper include Basquiat's Untitled, 1987, executed in acrylic, oil stick and graphite (estimated at $5,000,000-7,000,000) as well as Warhol's Portrait of Dennis Hopper, 1971, in synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink shades of blue, gray and ecru (estimated at $800,000-1,200,000). 

The two works will auction at Christie's Post-War & Contemporary Evening Sale on November 10.

"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."


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