Dennis Stock
James Dean


Thanks to the kind permission of Magnum Photos and particularly the invaluable help of Lorenza Bravetta, Tosetti Value S.I.M. has organized a temporary exhibition for its clients and associates of a number of Dennis Stock’s classic portraits, a veritable illustrated biography of the legendary James Dean.
Apprenticed under the masterly Gjon Mili, in 1951 Dennis Stock won first prize in a Life magazine competition with a photo reportage on the arrival of East German immigrants in New York. The same year he was invited by Robert Capa to become a member of Magnum Photos.   It would be the beginning of a career characterized by extraordinary humanity.
Dennis Stock and James Dean met in 1955 through director Nicholas Ray. The icon of “disaffected youth” had just finished filming East of Eden, and invited Stock to attend the preview in a Santa Monica theatre.
Entranced by James Dean’s performance, the Magnum photographer recognized the inspiration for a new work in the talented young actor, and James agreed to let the photographer chronicle his return to his birthplace in Indiana and New York in a photo-essay.
The latter would be the scene of what is perhaps his best-known image, which shows James Dean walking in the rain in New York’s Times Square, shoulders hunched to the elements and with a cigarette dangling from his lip.
A curious series of shots depicts James posing eerily in a coffin in a local undertaker’s parlour.
Without ever losing his melancholy look, he mocks the lens, winking at destiny. James Dean would die tragically just a few months after this illustrated journey ended.
Called on to photograph stars of the likes of Marilyn, Audrey Hepburn and John Wayne, Dennis Stock documented the more personal side of the story of Jazz through its key figures. His images of Louis Armstrong, Billy Holiday and Lester Young with his sax are all memorable, none less so than that of a bowler-hatted Kid ‘Punch’ Miller walking home from a gig in New Orleans at six o’clock in the morning, his trumpet under his arm.

“Empathy for the subject plays a central role. Looking for their essence in beauty, suffering or comedy is essential to fuel the passion for photography”

Exhibition catalogue

May 2014 / September 2014