George Daniell was an American photographer whose portfolio includes memorable studies of actors, writers and artists. He was born on May 4, 1911 in Yonkers, New York, and it was this early life amidst the dramatic, expansive and open landscape of his childhood that shaped his attachment to cinematic qualities of black-and-white photography. He trained as a painter at Yale and later at Arts Students League in New York where he first began working as a freelance photographer, shooting for publications like Times, Esquire and Life. Many of the renowned subjects he photographed were his friends such as John Marin, Berenice Abbott and Tennessee Williams.
During the 1940s he developed a lasting friendship with Georgia O’Keeffe of whom he took a series of intimate portraits while visiting her Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. The images offered an arresting insight into the secluded life of one of the first female American modernists. Daniell travelled across the country and around the world with his camera and it was during these excursions that he spent several months at the infamous Cinecittà Studios in Rome, taking striking black-and-white photographs of the blooming beauty of young Sophia Loren, and Audrey Hepburn on the set of ''War and Peace”. These portraits are marked by a distinct sense of sensuality and convey a deep-rooted interest in his subjects, constituting some of his most iconic and recognizable works.
He was not just a celebrity photographer however, taking a keen interest in a variety of subjects throughout his life. For him the pictures of dock workers in New Brunswick, crabbers on the Hudson, swimmers at Glen Island Beach and ballet dancers on Fire Island emulate a fierce and tender celebration of the angular male figure. Drawn to the dark and deep tones of the North Atlantic Coast, which coalesce in his early paintings, Daniell moved to Bar Harbor, Maine in the 1960s where he returned to painting. He continued working as a photographer and painter until his death on September 14, 2002.
George Daniell’s photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery.
Group shows include Roko Gallery, New York City, 1937; Museum of Modern Art, New York City, 1962; The University of Maine, Orono, 1967; The Evans Gallery, Maine, 1991; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, 2007.
His first solo exhibition was held at Mount Vernon Public Library in 1934. Other solo shows were held at Trevor Art Museum, Yonkers, 1938; Bodley Gallery, New York City, 1955; University of Maine, Orono, 1964, 1968 and 1979; The Evans Gallery, Maine, 1990.
1911 On May 4th George Daniell was born in Yonkers, New York
1925 Photographs with a folding Kodak
1926-30 Barnard School for Boys, Fieldston, New York
1927 Grand Central Art School, New York City
1930-34 Yale University, BA in Liberal Arts
1933 First trip to Europe
1934-40 Freelance photography and portraits in New York City
1937 Art Students League, New York City
1939 Trip to Hollywood to photograph Ramon Novarro
1940 Art study under Carl Nelson at the American People’s School, Bronx, New York
1942-44 United States Army; numerous paintings and sketches of army life
1944 Freelance photography in New York City
1946 35,000-mile trip through the United States, Canada, and Mexico
1947 Winner Jennie Sesnan Gold Medal for painting, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
1948 Photographed Georgia O’Keeffe on Fire Island; travelled to Europe
1951 Photographed John Marin at Cape Split, Maine and Cliffside, New Jersey
1952 Photographed O’Keeffe and D.H.Lawrence’s three women in New Mexico
1955 Two months photographing at Cinecitta Movie Studios in Rome;
portraits of Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn in Rome and W.H.Auden on Ischia
1956 First around-the-world trip
1958 Second around-the-world trip
1960 Moved to Trenton, Maine
1970 Photographed Harold Acton at his Villa La Pietra, Florence, Italy
1973 Photographed Tennessee Williams in Key West
2002 On September 14th George Daniell passed away in Bar Harbor, Maine