Roy Schatt

About Artist: Roy Schatt was born in New York City in 1909 and pursued a lifelong passion and career in the arts. He studied under N.C. Wyeth, painted murals during the WPA and used his artistic skills in the Army while stationed in India. Post-war he returned to New York City where he worked in advertising, acting, illustration and photography and landed in the circle of many creative personalities. He was influenced by renowned photographers Erich Salomon, Edward Weston, Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams. Roy Schatt’s photographs have been exhibited at the International Center of Photography, NY, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, Art Institute of Chicago, and included in national and international gallery exhibitions. WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC is the exclusive representative of the estate of photographer Roy Schatt (1909-2002) in collaboration with Ron Cayen Inc. Schatt is best known for his remarkable photographs of James Dean with whom he developed a special friendship. As a fellow actor and with a great interest in photography, Dean formed a special bond with Schatt and wanted to learn art from him. About the beginning of their relationship, Schatt states "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. (…) During our first meeting Jim asked me if I would shoot him, not as a regular session, but to document his activities. It soon developed that he wanted to shoot me as well, so we began classes." During the course of their yearlong friendship cut short by Dean's tragic death, Schatt captured the iconic “Torn Sweater” series portraits, as well as other images of Dean in personal moments playing the bongos at a party, pretending to steal candy from a newsstand or practicing the art of photography using Schatt and actor friends as his subject. Schatt also remembers how the darkroom, which Dean found tedious and boring, offered them the opportunity to speak about a wide range of topics. “Dean and I often talked about art to get him through the session. He was particularly curious about people who were able to communicate their perceptions or idea in a bold or unusual way. We often discussed artists of different disciplines, one time talking about photographers, another time a painter, another a writer. Roy summarizes their relationship cut short by Dean’s death in these words: “I knew James Dean from February 1954 until he died in September 1955. I knew him as a friend and as a student. He was a disrupter of norms, a bender of rules, a disquieter of calm. Through the following pictures and vignettes, I hope to transmit a glimpse of his most insistent, and perhaps eternal, presence".

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