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Dan Weiner

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Dan Weiner was born in New York City on October 12th, 1919, in an immigrant, blue-collar family in East Harlem. Weiner became interested in photography at fifteen when his uncle gave him a camera for his birthday. After highschool, Weiner was thrown out of the house when he told his parents he wanted to become a painter. Undeterred, Weiner went to study painting at the Art Students League in 1937 and at Pratt Institute from 1939 to 1940. After graduating, Weiner decided to devote himself to photography and joined the Photo League, a group of photographers active from 1935 to 1947 who aimed to use photography to effect social change. The Legue had many influential photographers, including Paul Strand and Sid Grossman, and Weiner’s future wife, Sandra, who often collaborated with him. Opening a commercial studio, he photographed women’s hats for catalogs. During World War II, while in the US Army Air Corps, Weiner began to experiment with small-format photography. He began to work as a freelance photojournalist for newspapers and magazines publishing photos such as Women at Perfume Counter (1948) and Autorama Top Hats (1950s) for The New York Times, Fortune, Harper’s Bazaar, and Collier’s. He photographed post-war life from the streets of New York to the shores of Nova Scotia, using his camera to highlight social and economic problems aiming to affect change. In 1956, Weiner covered the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., which is recognized as one of the first stories to be published on the burgeoning Civil Rights movement. Tragically, while on assignment in 1959, Dan Weiner was killed in a plane crash at the age of 39.

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