James Dean, Walking Down 68th Street

by Roy Schatt, New York City 1954

James Dean, Walking Down 68th Street by Roy Schatt, New York City 1954

The photographer Roy Schatt is Legendary for his series of photographs of actor James Dean, most notable being the 'Torn Sweater' photos.

Schatt was mesmerized from almost the first moment they met: "He was a squinty schlump of a person all bent over. Then Dean suddenly got up and this ugly person became a dream, an Adonis who started to dance around the room. It was a transition I couldn't believe." Dean studied photography with Schatt and they became close friends.
During the course of their yearlong friendship, Schatt and Dean formed a perfect photographer/subject relationship that resulted in many of the most popular images of Dean. "Dean was a method actor," Schatt explained, "being an actor, I was able to recognize that theatrical instinct. I would direct and provoke and the scenes would become inspiration. But the photograph still must be honest and interesting beyond the performance."

Educated in New York, Schatt started as an illustrator for government agencies in the 1930s, under the presidency of Franklin D Roosevelt.

Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica Auction