George Daniell Biography

George Daniell




Photographer and painter George Daniell was born in Yonkers, New York, on May 4, 1911. He first showed interest in photography at the age of fourteen when he acquired a folding Kodak camera. His formal art training began in 1927 at Grand Central Art School, followed by entrance into Yale University where he received his BA in Liberal Arts in 1934, holding his first solo exhibition that year at the Mt. Vernon Public Library. He began establishing a name for himself as a freelance photographer in New York while taking courses at the Art Students League and, in 1940, with Carl Nelson at the American People's School in the Bronx.

After he completed his formal studies he served in the US Army from 1942 to 1944, capturing his observances of army life in sketches and paintings. After his discharge Daniell freelanced for Time, Esquire, and Life magazines and others, photographing luminaries such as Tennessee Williams, John Marin, W.H. Auden, and Georgia O'Keefe, who would become a lifelong friend. Beginning in the late 1940s he traveled frequently throughout the US and abroad, and his friendship with O'Keefe brought him to New Mexico as well as Fire Island, both of which would become major sources of inspiration for Daniell.

A residency in 1955 at Italy's famous Cinecitta Movie Studios in Rome led to portrait commissions for burgeoning ingenues Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn, establishing Daniell's reputation as a sought-after portraitist to the Hollywood elite as well as setting a new standard for artistic, intimate portaiture. He contributed tips on photography techniques to Modern Photography, Beauty and the Camera, and other publications. He continued to travel throughout the 1950s, completing two round-the-world trips before settling in Trenton, Maine, in 1960.

In addition to this commissioned work Daniell was a landscape and social realist photgrapher, capturing the dramatic shorelines of the East Coast, skylines and architecture of New York, the daily lives of dock workers and fishermen, families, and children. He also worked with male ballet dancers and swimmers, creating a body of work that celebrated the male physique and intimacy at a time when social convention did not allow for it. He worked with three-dimensional artists to capture their work for publication as well as for his own artistic exploration; once such collaboration was with Abstract Expressionist sculptor Pamela Boden, whose large-scale woodcen creations he shot in the wild. He continued to work and exhibit as both a photographer and painter until his death on September 14, 2002.

George Daniell's work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery.

Selected solo shows:
1934: Mount Vernon Public Library, NY
1938: Treveor Art Museum, Yonkers, NY
1955: Bodley Gallery, New York, NY
1964, '68, '79: University of Maine, Orono
1990: Evans Gallery, ME

Selected group shows:
1937: Roko Gallery, New York, NY
1962: Museum of Modern Art, NY
1967: University of Maine, Orono
1991: Evans Gallery, ME
2007: Addison Gallery of American Art (posthumous), MA