James Dean was familiar with Kenneth Kendall’s artwork having admired a sculpture of Marlon Brando, which was displayed in the artist’s studio window. One evening in January of 1955, Dean stopped by the studio with his friend Toni Lee Scott and spent several hours talking with Kenneth about art, acting, opera and culture. At the end of the night, Dean asked if the artist would be interested in sculpting him. Kendall replied that he had some work to complete, but he would consider it. After seeing East of Eden, the artist was excited about the request. He sent word to Dean to acquire a life mask from Warner Brothers’ makeup department so that he could have a model for the sculpting process. Sadly, Dean died in a car crash before he could fulfill the request. The mask was discovered in his apartment and loaned to Kendall after Dean was buried. Kendall’s work on a monumental sculpture of James Dean started soon after. He also painted numerous canvases of James Dean over the years. A selection of those works are featured below.

James Dean: New York, New York
James Dean: New York, New York

oil on canvas signed with initials ‘KK’ (lower right) and inscribed and signed (on the reverse) with a ‘K’ burned into stretcher bar 28" x 23"

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James Dean in a Cap
James Dean in a Cap

from Dennis Stock photos in Indiana oil on canvas signed with initials ‘KK’ (lower right) and inscribed and signed (on the reverse) with a ‘K’ burned into stretcher bar 20" x 16"

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Profile in black turtleneck
Profile in black turtleneck

oil on canvas initialed ‘KK’ (lower left) and inscribed and signed (on the reverse) with a ‘K’ burned into stretcher 12" x 9"

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James Dean as Jett Rink
James Dean as Jett Rink

oil on canvas initialed ‘KK’ (lower right) and inscribed and signed (on the reverse) with a ‘K’ burned into stretcher 14" x 18"

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James Dean posing in a Gothic chair
James Dean posing in a Gothic chair

oil on canvas initialed ‘KK’ (lower right) and inscribed and signed (on the reverse) with a ‘K’ burned into stretcher 14" x 11"

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James Dean – the Torn Sweater, N.Y.
James Dean – the Torn Sweater, N.Y.

oil on canvas inscribed and signed (on the reverse) with a ‘K’ burned into stretcher 11" x 14"

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Byron: A Fantasy on Middle Names
Byron: A Fantasy on Middle Names

oil on canvas signed with initials ‘KK’ (lower center) and inscribed and signed (on the reverse) with a ‘K’ burned into stretcher bar 16" x 20"

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Small Study for El Torero Muerto
Small Study for El Torero Muerto

oil on canvas initialed ‘KK’ (lower right) and inscribed and signed (on the reverse) 10 ¼" x 16 ½ "

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James Dean (Indiana profile)
James Dean (Indiana profile)

oil on canvas inscribed and signed (on the reverse) 9 ¼ “ diameter

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