Death Drive

Opening this weekend at the Wapping Project in London is an exhibition of photographs by Dean Rogers that show the places where nine of our cultural heroes were killed in car crashes…

Jackson Pollock, August 11, 1956

Opening this weekend at the Wapping Project in London is an exhibition of photographs by Dean Rogers that show the places where nine of our cultural heroes were killed in car crashes…

James Dean, September 30, 1955

Rogers took the images on the anniversary of the deaths, at the exact time of day they occurred, and in the precise position the car was before impact. Whereas some of the final photographs are rendered atmospheric by darkness, many reveal the rather banal landscape witnessed by the subjects in the final seconds before their deaths.

Marc Bolan, September 16, 1977

The series includes the deathplaces of artists and writers including Jackson Pollock, Albert Camus and Helmut Newton, and musicians such as Marc Bolan and Eddie Cochrane. It also features perhaps the world’s most famous car crash victim, Princess Diana.

The exhibition opens at the Wapping Project on October 4, and will run until November 1. Rogers will discuss his work in a talk on October 7. More info is at

Princess Diana, August 31, 1997

  • Thomas

    eerily wonderful.

  • great!

  • Funnily enough, I think the Diana shot is the weakest because of its elevated position from up on the embankment. The others benefit from being down on the road – you really feel like this could have been their last glimpse of the world. Great idea.

  • Ciara O’Meara

    Simple. Spooky. Beautiful.

  • Eeee! Much good shiver to be had with these.

  • Richie Evans

    thought Lynn Strait death place would have been in there

  • I’m not sure they’re the precise locations – the Mark Bolan ‘memorial’ is further over the bridge than that. Having said that the brow of the bridge might well have been the spot where the car left the ground… Also, the Diana one clearly isn’t the precise location. Still – they’re good photos on a very morbid subject.

  • Were all the photos taken at around the same time of day that the accident happened?

  • Woody

    The Sam Kinison one would have been a good addition. great concept though.

  • Lil

    What about Jayne Mansfield?
    They even have a truck part named after her! It’s on the back of the truck and it’s called a “Mansfield Bar”. For realz.

  • :)
    I drive one every day:

    just remember not to speed like there is no tomorrow,
    and it’s oookay :)

  • Jaie

    I suspect they are all approximations. The actual site of James Dean’s death, for example, is not part of the current roadway. (As reported here, among other places.)

  • very nice shots!

  • Andy

    Haunting. Really like it.

  • I don’t believe him. He just took photographs anywhere and just made it up. Who’s going to check? Who cares if they aren’t anyway. The modern desperation to find anything to give interest to the found object, in this case the banal location. Somebody died here, oo, ee. Scary.

  • Michelle

    I guess Jack Gardner sure told us.

  • This is a great idea! Morbid, but real great!

  • Heather

    RE: Jack Gardener and Not checking I can certainly vouch for the authenticity of the location of the Marc Bolan picture. I cycle it twice daily on my way to and from work it’s on Rocks lane in Barnes, there is a small shrine on the side of the road.

  • Steve Conlin

    Pic of James Dean Memorial Junction is accurate but actual site of impact (original intersection) is second intersection ahead, where a modern transition lane to highway 46 was laid on the old 1950’s roadbed. Head-on crash happened about where small signs are, then Dean’s Porsche (traveling west, into the sun) spun to the right, onto the dirt shoulder near a telephone pole and barbed wire fence.

    The telephone pole is long gone, but fence still exists and a small brass plaque clamped to the wire marks the spot. About a mile up the road, in the tiny hamlet of Cholame, a formal memorial commemorates Dean’s life and tragic death at 24.

  • I think this a load of pointless rubbish. The resulting photographs are poorly composed, poorly exposed and poorly seen. If anybody reads this that has any cash: how about sponsoring me to go and do a better job? I would use 1 camera , 1 35mm lens and possibly 1 flashgun.

  • Ken in Dublin

    The James Dean one for me is the most powerful, taken at the exact time of the impact on the anniversary this is the view he would have had, regardless of a previous commentator’s point that the road has changed, it’s pretty irrelevant, the timeless hills, sun, sky and asphalt seen here would have dominated his visual senses, though he would obviously have been transfixed by the oncoming Ford driven by – the supremely ironically named – Donald Turnipseed (Turnupspeed)

    Diana was in the back seat and wouldn’t have seen much.

  • Hi, its a bit late now. However to correct things regarding Marc Bolan. His Shrine is NOT on Rock’s Lane. It is on Queen’s Ride and backs onto the private part of Gipsy Lane. You can find full information with maps and photographs of the entire history of The Shrine, together with a Marc Bolan Illustrated Biography on the Official Marc Bolan’s Rock Shrine Web Site of which is run by TAG (T-Rex Action Group) who were granted an in perpetuity Lease on the site in 1999 with full ownership and responsibility for the ‘Bolan Tree’
    Warmest Regards.
    Fee TAG Secretary and Founder

  • Laura

    Thank you so much Fee. I was just going to correct that person who said Marc Bolans death place was on Rock’s Lane, this is TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY WRONG. His death place was on Queen’s Ride and backs onto the private part of Gipsy Lane…The memorial is there. That picture is haunting and chilling, especially as it is eye-level…. :( R.I.P Marc. Gone, but never forgotten. x

  • They all look so dull and mundane.

    But for the piquant gore of death associations, who would be interested?