The restoration works of the pictures, capturing the final 85 days before the world famous death by an automobile accident of James Dean, are in progress for an exhibition.

Shining a spotlight on it in the era of self-driving cars.

A digital restoration project of the photographs of James Dean (1931-1955), a legendary American actor who died in a car accident at the age of 24, is currently in progress in the city of Kobe, Japan. Mr. Seita Ohnishi (1932-), the founder of a local beverage company in the city and the owner of 1,570 original negatives, has selected 250 significant images in hopes to put together an exhibition. The collection is entirely from the very important works by Sanford Roth (1906-1962), the official still photographer for Dean's last movie “Giant” who captured moments before and after the star's tragic and sudden death including rarely seen intimate shots of Dean at his friends'house. In the era of thriving technology in the automobile industry that deres to aim at an accident-free society, bringing back Dean's legacy, whose passing is still being mourned throughout generations across the globe, has much value. We are actively in search for any individuals and corporate entities to sponsor this project. With modern visual technologies, such as VR, we believe we could create an exhibition that would resonate with today's 24-year olds.

Restoration in progress

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JAMES DEAN

James Dean

The actor who reached the stardom after the first two movies "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause" had left this world without witnessing the success of third and the last on his filmography "Giant".

Born 1931 in Indiana, James Dean debuted on the silver screen in "East of Eden"(1955) and had equal, if not more, success in "Rebel Without a Cause" released in the same year. A week after he finished shooting his third film "Giant", Dean died in an accident in California while driving his beloved Porsche 550/1500RS. He was just 24 years old.

In "Rebel Without a Cause", Dean portrayed gloomy and ominous emotions of the times and widely resonated with his generation. In "East of Eden" he personified a man hungry for paternal love. In "Giant", the last appearance in a feature film, he played a life of a character, a young defiant cowboy going against a wealthy rancher with everything he's got who eventually became one of America's millionaires. The performances were highly acclaimed and brought him two Oscar nominations. In "Giant" Dean co-starred with famed and celebrated actress Elizabeth Taylor.

The outfit Dean had for his role in the movie, a pair of blue jeans and red swing-top became such icons symbolizing adrescents' rebellion against adults. Dean also committed himself to car racing and had driving skills at the level of professionals.

Dean died before the last work of his very short movie career hit the theaters, and one of the reasons why he's still a beloved movie star is because of the way he shot up to the stardom and repeated revivals of his works all around the world. Fans of his span across generations, from those in forties to eighties.

Project Members

  • Tomofumi Nakano

    Project Manager/Photographer

    Tomofumi Nakano

    Born 1978 in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Nakano worked as a newspaper editor followed by a brief career as a photographer with European Pressphoto Agency through which his works appeared on New York Times and Guardian among other international publications. Recognitions of Nakano's works include exhibitions in Kolga Tbilisi Photo Festival 2017 (Tbilisi, Georgia) and Pingyao International Photography Festival 2018 (Pingyao, China), as well as an Emerging Talent Award 2017 from LensCulture (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and Award of Excellence from Konica Minolta FOTO Premio 2010 (Tokyo, Japan). Nakano currently works on personal fine art photography projects along with James Dean Archives.

    Comment

    Restoring historic photographs is kind of work that only photographers with very specific techniques can do. We aim at restoring them to the level that can satisfy museums and art collectors.

  • Yoshiaki Kita

    Technical Supervisor/Photographer

    Yoshiaki Kita

    Born 1967 in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. Kita started working as freelance assistant for commercial studios after graduating from Japan College of Photography and Motion Picture in 1988. Kita traveled all throughout Japan since 1987 only to expand his route to overseas from 1991, while working on projects in Europe, Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Recognitions for Kita's works include Grand Prix for National Geographic Photography Contest 2002 (Japanese Edition). Kita is a former part-time instructor in Art and Design Department at Takarazuka University.

    Comment

    The negatives from 1955 are surely damaged to a great extent. Touching them with bare hands is unthinkable today but photographic negatives were thought to be just original plates to make print copies and weren't treated with care and precision back then. It will certainly take time to cure the countless scratches on surface and will be a grueling work.

  • Masatake Kawaguchi

    Chief officer/CEO, Crevice Factory

    Masatake Kawaguchi

    Born 1983 in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.

    Comment

    I’ve been in talks with Mr. Ohnishi about bringing James Dean back to the global fans. In the midst of today's technological advancement in developing safer society in which automobiles cause least possible fatal accidents, I find great sense of mission to re-introduce a man to our time, whose unfortunate, sudden and famous fatal accident at the age of 24 would carry something to present generations and beyond. Using cutting edge technologies like VR, I am confident we can offer experience that would resonate with audience.

from U.S.A. to Japan

The backstory of the pictures of James Dean's final days to come to Japan

Seita Ohnishi

Seita Ohnishi is a big fan of James Dean and visited the site of the accident and instant death of the star, then felt convinced to do something in order to commemorate the legacy of James Dean because nobody has done it. So he built a steel memorial in 1977 in hopes for long lasting remembrance. That brought him and Beulah Roth, the wife of the late photographer Sanford Roth who took the pictures of the last days of Dean, closer. She was in several pictures with Dean at their home, and on rare occasions, even modeled with him for her husband’s photo shoot. Ten years after Ohnishi built the memorial, Mrs. Roth gave negatives of 1570 shots and other memorabilias in 1987 so that “more people can be in touch with what Jimmy was really like”. Ohnishi inherited very intimate personal connections through the photographic means.

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A 49 years old top-notch photographer personified the rare talent of a 24 years old actor.

Sanford Roth

Sanford Roth

Photographer Sanford Roth left highly acclaimed works that brought him international recognitions such as portraits of Picasso, Chagall and Einstein.

Roth and Dean spent deeply intimate 85 days immediately prior to Dean's death. As a still photographer for the movie "Giant", Roth first met Dean at a movie set. From then on, they developed friendship both professionally and privately. Moments like playing with Roth's cameras during break between takes and visiting Roth's house for chatting with Beulah, playing drums or working on sculpture piece were captured on film. It was obvious the artists, a photographer and an actor, immediately hit it off, and Roth caught signs of Dean's promising talents. Roth was actually with Dean when the famous crash happened. Moments building up to it were also captured on film as well as clearly rattled Roth in the face of the erratic behaviour that led to the death of his new, young and talented friend to whom he held strong friendship.

Bio:
Born 1906 in New York. Beside the works on James Dean, Roth photographed 20th Century icons such as Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Georges Rouault, Igor Stravinsky, Colette and many others. Roth died 1962 in Rome. Roth’s works had appeared on Life, Paris Match, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Oggi, People among others. Roth held solo exhibitions at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), The Art Institute of Chicago, Pasadena Museum of California Art, SFMoMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) and Mills College Art Museum.

Museum of Modern Art, New York City, New York
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverly Hills, California
Musee De La Photographie Ville de Mougins le Maire, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, California
Getty Museum Research Center, Los Angeles, California
Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

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