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Walter Hopps

Henry Hopkins in conversation with Walter Hopps

A native of Eagle Rock, California, maverick gallery owner, curator, and museum director Walter Hopps (1932-2005) founded the groundbreaking Ferus Gallery in West Hollywood in 1957, creating a vibrant hub for those who made and collected modern art. They included Hopps’s business partner, Ed Kienholz, whose “assemblage art” used pieces of used cars and even garbage. Also Ed Ruscha, who created a stir by painting words and signs on canvas. Hopps went on to become the first director of the Pasadena Museum of Art, now the Norton Simon, where he mounted the first overview of American Pop Art. He later helmed Washington’s Corcoran Gallery and served as curator of the Smithsonian National Collection of 20th Century American Art. But he disdained the federal bureaucracy and returned to Los Angeles, telling a friend that working at the Smithsonian “was like moving through an atmosphere of Seconal.”

Interview Recorded on 12/26/1987

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