Daniell, George

American (1911-2002)

George Daniell’s father committed suicide in front of the family one night at the dinner table. In some artists, this would have produced a vision of life both dark and brooding; in George Daniell, whose photos both celebrate and laugh at life, the effect seems to have been just the opposite. Following the tragedy, Daniell graduated with a degree in both painting and photography from Yale University. He set up his studio in Yonkers and soon drew inspiration from the Hudson River outside his window. He freelanced for Time and Life magazines, often capturing figures cavorting near the water and on the beach.

Other assignments for the magazine found him shooting celebrities, ranging from Audrey Hepburn to Tennessee Williams, Lena Horne to a 10-year-old Robert De Niro. Georgia O’Keeffe often cited Daniell as one of her favorite photographers. Daniell’s camera captured both high and low – movie stars in Italy and fishermen on the river, celebrated writers and migrant workers during the Great Depression, movie studios and war-ravaged Europe – but common to all of these images is a sense of hope and joy.