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.
During the 50s, Roy Schatt lived in Greenwich Village, the vibrant artistic epicenter of the epoch, and befriended creative personalities. Schatt's forte in portrait photography and his sensibility as an actor allowed him to capture the most genuine, even vulnerable, emotions of his subjects. Famed director Lee Strasberg recognized his caliber as a photographer and named Schatt the Official Photographer of the Actor's Studio.
Schatt's estate includes never before seen photographs of members of The Actors Studio during the 1950's as well as many other images of personalities active in the
Schatt's work has been exhibited at Manhattan's International Center for Photography, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, the Chicago Institute of Art and many other museums. In January 1955, Edward Steichen's choice for the Museum of Modern Art's collection was a Roy Schatt photograph.
A look back at acclaimed photographer Roy Schatt’s work on WPIX11 NEWS
1920's Studied Art Students League,
1934 Married Masha Arms (Roy was 25, Masha 26 years old). They bought themselves a miniature German 45 mm camera (Pupille) as a wedding present and later traded it in for a Leica.
1935-39 Illustrated books, created drawings and photographs
1940’s Painted murals under “New Deal’ programs for artists (WPA) developed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt
1942-45 Served in U.S. Army,
He met José Quintero, Director, Producer and co-founder of Circle in the Square theatre in the
1955 – 1960’s Roy continued to photograph the acting community, including Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Martin Landau, Arthur Miller, Geraldine Page, Dorothy Parker, Sidney Lumet, Lorne Greene, Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller, Andy Griffith, Bud Schulberg, Ben Gazzara, Maureen Stapleton, William Saroyan, Leonard Bernstein, John Cassavetes, Eli Wallach, Vincent Price, Eva Gabor, Marlene Dietrich, Peter Falk, Susan Strasberg, Ben Gazzara, Lillian Hellman, Hal Holbrook, David Ross, Ricardo Montalban and many more talented individuals.
1957 Jazz and other musicians,
1963 Photographed JFK’s funeral
1964 Photographed Malcolm X
1982 Published his book James Dean: A Portrait, which is Roy Schatt’s account of his time with Dean and most of his legendary photographs of James Dean.
1984 Art Institute of Chicago acquired a Roy Schatt photo for their collection, a 1955 image of Marilyn Monroe without makeup, wearing a hat
1990 Limited editions prints were created by
2004 New York Public Library acquired the "Circle in the Square" archives, which include many photographs by Roy Schatt, images of Arthur Miller, José Quintero and Tennessee Williams.
2006 Exhibitions of Roy’s limited edition prints of James Dean and other photos are presented in
2009 Syracuse University organizes the Long John Nebel radio archives, gifted by John Nebel, which includes historic photos from the radio program by Roy Schatt.
2014 The Smithsonian exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery in
2015 WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC becomes the exclusive representative for the Estate of Roy Schatt and views a large portion of Schatt’s archive. Many negatives still remain from the 1950’s - 90’s era of Roy Schatt’s photos, some never developed.
WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC premieres the exhibition of Roy Schatt’s photographs of James Dean and The Actors Studio, many never before seen in a first time comprehensive exhibition for Schatt.
2015 - James Dean and The Actors Studio, WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC
2006 - JAMES DEAN - American Icon, TRESART, Miami
2006 - James DEAN, Gallery RX, Paris
2004 - James Dean Collection ca. 1947-1954, 1989, Indiana Historical Society
2014 - National Portrait Gallery "American Cool"
2011 - James Dean: A Different Icon. Roy Schatt, Phil Stern, Dennis Stock, Museum THE KENNEDYS, Berlin
2010 - FACES OF OUR TIMES, Atlas Gallery, London
2007 - Portraits, Galerie RX, Paris
2006 - The World's Most Photographed, National Portrait Gallery, London
2006 - Jacques Lowe, Roy Schatt, Bert Stern, Museum Ludwig, Köln
2005 - James Dean photographed by Roy Schatt, Phil Stern, Dennis Stock, Camera Work, Berlin
National Portrait Gallery
Art Institute of Chicago
Catalog of American Portraits,