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Dennis Hopper's Stunning Photography Shows 1960s-America in All Its Complexity

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood June 16, 2014 at 2:39PM

Before he became a two-time Oscar nominee and a famous "enfant terrible" of Hollywood, Dennis Hopper was, well, a young punk. After 1969's "Easy Rider," which Hopper directed and co-starred in, the actor/director endured what was essentially an exile from show business until 1986, when David Lynch cast him as the gangster Frank in "Blue Velvet."
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Hopper participated in one of the famous marches civil rights marches from Selma, Alabama, to the state capitol in Montgomery led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965.
Hopper participated in one of the famous marches civil rights marches from Selma, Alabama, to the state capitol in Montgomery led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965.
Hopper's portrait of Roy Lichtenstein, 1964
Hopper's portrait of Roy Lichtenstein, 1964

Before he became a two-time Oscar nominee and a famous "enfant terrible" of Hollywood, Dennis Hopper was, well, a young punk. After 1969's "Easy Rider," which Hopper directed and co-starred in, the actor/director endured what was essentially an exile from show business until 1986, when David Lynch cast him as the gangster Frank in "Blue Velvet."

In the intervening 15 years, Hopper threw himself into photography, a collection of which--"Out in the Sixties"--was released in '86 and swept under by the media frenzy surrounding "Blue Velvet."  In the preface to that book, Hopper wrote, "These are my photos. I started at 18 taking pictures, I stopped at 31. I am 50 now. These represent the years from 25-31… They were the only creative outlet I had for those years until Easy Rider. I never carried a camera again."

In anticipation of an upcoming exhibit of Hopper's work at the Royal Academy in London, The Guardian has published a collection of some of the actor's 1960s shots. They reveal an incredible, artistic eye--and provide a delicious view into the United States in one of its most iconic and significant decades.  Check out some of the best photographs below, and after the jump.

Update: As one of our readers astutely pointed out on Facebook, Hopper's assertion to have "never carried a camera again" was true in 1986, but did not remain true for the rest of his life: he became fascinated with digital photography in his later life and spent time in Paris walking the streets and taking pictures.

This article is related to: Dennis Hopper, David Lynch


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