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Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 18:22 GMT
Hopper art show opens
Dennis Hopper with his art
Dennis Hopper is proud to get his own retrospective show
Movie star Dennis Hopper has hailed the opening of his first retrospective art exhibition as the highlight of his life - topping even his classic film Easy Rider.

The collection at Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum showcases more than 100 paintings, photographs, films and sculptures dating back to the mid-50s.

Hopper said: "It is the most important thing that ever happened to me, to be here at this museum.

"That is serious, this is not about making Easy Rider, it is about making these paintings.

"That is much more important to me than anything else that has ever happened in my life."

The show highlights Hopper's diverse artistic style, ranging from abstract impressionism to photo-realism.

He pays homage to other distinguished artists in his work, with Robert Rauschenberg sticking out his tongue and Andy Warhol smiling shyly behind a flower.
Dennis Hopper's retrospective opens in Amsterdam
Dennis Hopper shows off his hidden talents

Hopper said: "I am very humbled by having this show.

"I am fully aware that Cezanne in his lifetime never had a retrospective, I am fully aware that Van Gogh never had a retrospective and so many of the great artists were never allowed to see their work in one place."

Hopper, 64, started painting in the 1950s. His work has been exhibited in galleries for years, and the actor, renowned for his roles in such films as Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet, has long been a serious art collector.

Drug high

Now sober and drug free, Hopper admitted heavy drug and alcohol use had played a role in a number of works in the new exhibit.

But he recalled how acting guru Lee Strasberg taught him to use his senses and how Jackson Pollock's art teacher Thomas Hart Benton urged him as young man to "get tight and paint loose".

He said: "I think getting in a state where you are free of any pre-conceived ideas and attack a canvas with just source materials is a wonderful freeing experience."

Despite his art world achievements, Hopper said he was not ready to abandon acting and directing.

He added: "For the last four years I have been working on having this retrospective, and that is all I have done. I have done just a couple of movies just to keep some money in my pocket."

"I am going to direct a movie shortly, as soon as I get out of this."

See also:

05 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Dennis hops on his bike again
02 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Hopper avoids drug conviction
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