Den­nis Hop­per’s col­lec­tion of­fered

Pieces in­clude Warhol por­trait that the late ac­tor adorned with bul­let holes

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - BY ULA IL­NYTZKY

The late ac­tor, a pho­tog­ra­pher and painter, had a house full of fine art and mem­o­ra­bilia.

new york — Den­nis Hop­per shot two bul­let holes through an Andy Warhol por­trait of Mao Ze­dong, but in­stead of get­ting mad, Warhol called the “Easy Rider” star a col­lab­o­ra­tor.

Warhol’s “Mao” is among 300 works of fine art and mem­o­ra­bilia up for auc­tion at Christie’s this week that were owned by the late ac­tor and di­rec­tor of the 1969 coun­ter­cul­ture film. The 1972 col­ored screen­print is ex­pected to bring $20,000 to $30,000.

Most of the items adorned the ac­tor’s home in Venice Beach, Calif.

Hop­per, who was twice nom­i­nated for Os­cars and earned a star last year on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, died of prostate can­cer at hishome­inMay. He­was74.

Hop­per was al­ready stricken with can­cer when he at­tended the cer­e­mony for the un­veil­ing of his com­mem­o­ra­tive star. The framed plaque of the star that Hop­per re­ceived as a me­mento of the event is be­ing soldnex­tweek­for $1,000 to $1,500.

Hop­per be­gan col­lect­ing in the 1960s af­ter ac­tor Vin­cent Price, an avid col­lec­tor of im­pres­sion­ist art, told him: “You need to col­lect. This is where you need to put your­money,” said Cathy Elkies, di­rec­tor of iconic col­lec­tions for Christie’s. “ This re­ally was his call­ing.”

Hop­per, a pho­tog­ra­pher and painter him­self, be­came im­mersed in the West Coast artist sce­ne­and­popart­move­ment, be­com­ing close friends with­Warhol, Roy Licht­en­stein and many of the other artists whose works he col­lected.

Al­though eclec­tic, the col­lec­tion fea­tures some artists in more depth, in­clud­ing Wal­lace Berman, Bruce Con­ner and Ge­orgeHerms.

“Mao” and Con­ner’s “Pic­nic on the Grass” are the high­est-priced items.

The shoot­ing in­volv­ing “Mao” oc­curred in the early 1970s atHop­per’s Los An­ge­les home, said Alex Hitz, a fam­ily friend and a trustee of the es­tate.

“One night in the shad­ows, Den­nis, out of the corner of his eyes, sawtheMao, and­he­wasso spooked by it thathe gotup and shot at it twice, putting two bul­let holes in it,” Hitz told theAssociated Press in a tele­phone in­ter­view from Los An­ge­les. “Andy saw it, loved it and an­no­tated those holes,” la­bel­ing them “warn­ing shot” and “ bul­let hole.”

Hop­per’s four chil­dren are auc­tion­ing the col­lec­tion be­cause “it was Den­nis’s wish to sell ev­ery­thing,” Hitz said. “How do you cut a Warhol and all those other won­der­ful pieces by four?”

Elkies said Hop­per’s Venice Beach house was filled “ lit­er­ally from floor to ceil­ing with art, and re­al­is­ti­cally [the chil­dren] couldn’t take that on.”

She said the fam­ily was hold­ing on to more sen­ti­men­tal pieces, in­clud­ingHop­per’s own pho­tog­ra­phy and paint­ings.

Posters from the movies he starred in, in­clud­ing “Apoc­a­lypse Now,” “Blue Vel­vet” and “Speed,” are es­ti­mated to sell for $200 to $500.

A 158-page un­bound “Easy Rider” script, with ex­ten­sive hand­writ­ten notes on the back of two pages, is be­ing of­fered at a pre-sale es­ti­mate of $2,000 to $3,000. A three-sheet poster from the film, which also starred the then-un­known ac­tor Jack Ni­chol­son, is es­ti­mated at $1,000 to $1,500.

Hop­per co-starred with­PeterFonda in “Easy Rider,” about two pot-smok­ing, drug-deal­ing hip­pies on a cross-coun­try mo­tor­cy­cle trip. He also starred as a drugged-out jour­nal­ist in Francis Ford Cop­pola’s 1979 Viet­namWar epic, “Apoca­lypseNow.”

Christie’s of­fered 30 works from the Hop­per col­lec­tion in Novem­ber, when a 1987 Jean-Michel Basquiat mixed me­dia work, “Un­ti­tled,” sold for $5.8 mil­lion.


CEN­TRAL FIG­URE: This 1990 por­trait of Den­nisHop­per by pho­tog­ra­pher Vic­tor Skreb­neski will be sold by Hop­per’s es­tate dur­ing a two-day auc­tion at Christie’s this week.

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