Dennis Hopper dies aged 74

Julian Schnabel, 'Dennis Hopper', 1991

Dennis Hopper died today after a ten-year battle with cancer.   An established visual artist (and collector) as well as an actor and director, he was the subject of the recent exhibition, Dennis Hopper and The New Hollywood at ACMI in Melbourne.

Dennis Hopper, 'Double Standard', 1961

MOCA¬†LA is embarking on a major survey of Hopper’s work entitled Dennis Hopper: Double Standard, curated by his friend and fellow artist/director Julian Schnabel.¬† It will be¬†MOCA’s first exhibition under the directorship of former gallerist Jeffrey Deitch and¬†was¬†fast-tracked to open on July 11 to ensure Hopper’s full involvement.¬† While¬†Hopper was able to participate in the selection of works, the¬†show will now become a¬†bittersweet memorial.

Dennis Hopper: Double Standard, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 250 South Grand Avenue, July 11 – September 26 2010

Dennis Hopper dies aged 74

Sally Mann’s Immediate Family

Sally Mann, 'Hayhook', 1989, from the series 'Immediate Family'

Long before Bill Henson’s photographs started ruffling feathers, American photographer Sally Mann’s images of her own children were causing a stir. The artist saw her 1992 photographic series Immediate Family as a loving, intimate collaboration with her family, but critics accused Mann of exploitation and were upset by her depictions of child nudity.

Sally Mann, 'Jesse at 5', 1989, from the series 'Immediate Family'

Using a 100-year-old camera, the artist’s soft focus portrayals of childhood recall the romantic style of photographers like Julia Margaret Cameron, but they are also confrontingly honest, and for some this is the problem.

Sometimes Mann’s kids present themselves in ways in which adults don’t want to see them.¬† The artist conveys the process of ‘growing up’.¬†¬† A combination of fantasy and reality, her photographs are often sensuous, sometimes disturbing.¬† She says: “Many of these pictures are intimate, some are fictions and some are fantastic, but most are of ordinary things that every mother has seen”.

Sally Mann, 'Last Light', 1989, from the series 'Immediate Family'

Sally Mann will be giving a talk at The National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, on Friday the 18th of June at 7pm.

Sally Mann’s Immediate Family

Yvonne Todd in conversation with Robert Leonard

Work by Yvonne Todd is included in Unnerved: The New Zealand Project, a largely collection-based exhibition of New Zealand artists at Queensland Art Gallery¬†that runs until July 4.¬† You can watch the rest of Yvonne Todd’s interview with IMA Director Robert Leonard on Queensland Art Gallery’s YouTube channel here.

Yvonne Todd in conversation with Robert Leonard

Wild Billy Childish

Billy Childish and Tracey Emin, n.d.

Leg of Lamb watched Billy Childish is Dead last night, a no-frills documentary about the mustachioed rocker and prolific poet and painter who flatly refuses to become ‘famous’.¬† This might explain his split with old girlfriend Tracey Emin.¬†¬† Her self-obsessed artwork draws heavily on the work of Childish and even includes him – Emin’s infamous appliqu√©d tent Everyone I Have Ever Slept With (1995) contains the muso’s name front and centre (below).

Detail of Tracey Emin’s work ‘Everyone I have ever slept with’, 1995

It was Emin who allegedly coined the term ‘Stuckism‘, an art movement Childish was¬†associated with until the early 2000’s.¬† Eschewing the ‘pretensions of conceptual art’ promoted by the Tate – and often protesting outside the gallery’s annual Turner Prize – the Stuckists favour a return to figurative painting.

Woodcut by Billy Childish, n.d.

Unfortunately Childish’s paintings are somewhat derivative, they reference expressionists like Van Gogh and Kirchner.¬† The energy and confidence evident in his woodcuts is more interesting.¬† But it’s when he’s performing that Childish comes into his own. ¬†His spoken word is sincere and his music is raw.¬† He’s released over 100 albums with bands including The Milkshakes, Thee Headcoats, Thee Mighty Caesars, The Buff Medways (below) and The Musicians of the British Empire so take your pick…

Wild Billy Childish