Hopps, Walter with Deborah Treisman. “The Dream Colony: A Life in Art”, Bloomsbury USA, 2017.
A Visionary Curator
Walter Hopps is an innovative, iconoclastic curator of contemporary art. When he was just 21 years old, he founded his first gallery in L.A. At twenty-four, he opened the Ferus Gallery with then-unknown artist Edward Kienholz and this was where he turned the spotlight on a new generation of West Coast artists. Ferus was the first gallery ever to show Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” and was shut down by the Los Angeles vice squad for a show of Wallace Berman’s edgy art. At the Pasadena Art Museum in the sixties, Hopps presented the first museum retrospectives of Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell and the first museum exhibition of Pop Art before it was even known as Pop Art. In 1967, Hopps became the director of Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art at age thirty-four and the “New York Times” hailed him as “the most gifted museum man on the West Coast (and, in the field of contemporary art, possibly in the nation).” While he was erratic in his work habits, he was never erratic in his commitment to art. He died in 2005 after having been at the Menil Collection of art in Houston for which he was the founding director. A few years before that, he began work on this book and it is a personal, irreverent, and enlightening look at his life and of some of the greatest artistic minds of the twentieth century. Hopps merged life and career and he feel his passion as we read his story.
“Hopps knew the best stories about artists, or at least about Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg and other members of the avant-garde with whom he worked closely”. He shares those in this memoir giving us an unusually intimate look at the American art scene.
“The Dream Colony” is history that is fun to read while at the same time showing us why Hopps mattered.