James Dean’s Studio Apartment

I love this photograph, I love the idea of this photograph.  I lived in a studio apartment for years and even after moving into a very large apartment, I ignored a large portion of it and treated it as a studio apartment.  I loved the coziness, the comfort, and the economy that the size restrictions created.  I am not a hoarder by nature, and I guess I accumulate things to accommodate my surroundings, like a goldfish growing to the size of his bowl, so when I got more space, I got more furniture.  It just turned out that I rarely used it.  I guess what I am drawn to about this photograph is that James Dean could have had a photo spread taken at a borrowed Hollywood Hills house, sipping orange juice outside next to the pool, sweater tied around the neck.  He could have borrowed a huge Upper East Side apartment for a similar styled photo shoot.  Whether he crafted the artist bohemian Upper West Side efficiency apartment (with shared bath) the same way, I do not know, but it speaks to my aesthetic, especially my aesthetic for who I thought he was.
james dean studio
Despite being just steps from a glamorous stretch of Central Park, James Dean’s studio apartment on West 68th Street in New York City was decidedly collegiate. The actor lived in the rented space, off and on, from 1953 until his death in a car crash two years later. (The photograph here was published in Life magazine, six months before Dean was killed.) On the top floor of a five-story, 19th-century redbrick townhouse, Dean’s New York City home was furnished with bohemian casualness. Outfitted with indifferent, seemingly secondhand furniture and knotty-pine shelves, the small, round-windowed interior had abstract art tacked to the walls and a matador’s cape hanging above the bed—the latter possession echoed in one of the books above the built-in desk: Volume 5 of Los Toros, a 1943 encyclopedia of bullfighting by José María Cossío. The bath, shared with other tenants, was located down the hall.

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