New York – The shots fired by Dennis Hopper back in the 1970s to a portrait of Mao Se-Dong (a work by Andy Warhol) is back in the limelight on the eve of an auction of the actor’s private collection slated by Christie’s for tomorrow Jan. 11 and 12 in the Big Apple.
The phone conversation between Alex Hitz –a friend of the family’s- with the Associated Press news agency, that was either aired or printed by the mass media, underscores the interest in the iconic image recreated by the so-called king of pop art. “One night in the dark, in his Los Angeles home, Dennis looked at the Mao portrait out the corner of his eye and he got so scared that he stood up and shot a couple of slugs at the painting, drilling two holes in it. Andy saw it, loved it and tagged the holes as “warning shot” and “bullet hole” respectively.”
To the initial bidding price for this 1972 serigraph is somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000, collectors will also consider the random action derived from the off-the-wall collaboration made by the star actor of Apocalypse Now (1979).
According to connoisseurs, the effect the Mao image triggered in Warhol was as big as his passion for Hollywood stars: Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe.
In previous auctions, Christie’s had sold Warhol pieces with the image of Mao. The most famous of them all perhaps is Mao by Andy Warhol, organized by Christie’s and New York-based L & M Arts gallery in 2008, as well as at the Hong Kong Conventions & Exhibitions Center.
This time around Christie’s hopes to rake in $1 million out of Hopper’s collection of roughly 300 pieces, including some 241 of them created by Marcel Duchamp, Gerhard Richter, Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, Kenny Scharf and actor Viggo Mortensen.
The sale will also comprise mementos, furniture, movie posters and decorative objects from his home in Venice Beach, west of L.A., where he lived for over 20 years. The house –it was put on sale in mid 2010- shows off a few structures designed by architects Brian Murphy and Frank Gehry.
Hopper passed away on May 29, 2010. He was 74. With two Oscar nominations under his belt, this 100-plus-movie actor was honored in March 2010 with a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As both a photographer and a painter, he was linked to the arts, especially to the Ferus Gallery in L.A., founded by art critic Walter Hopps. In the mid 1960s, he had already rounded out a valuable collection of artworks by artists he’d made good friends or was somewhat acquainted with, like Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, Herms George, Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, among others.
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