Thursday, October 28, 2010

Featured Artist this week: Dawoud Bey

Dawoud Bey began his career in 1975 as a photographer and has since been shown in numerous institutions worldwide. Currently there is an exhibition of his series "Class Pictures" traveling around the country. "Class Pictures" is a series of photographs of high school students with accompanying statements by each student, which reveal Bey's uncanny ability to gain the trust of his subject, and portray their true selves. Dawoud Bey’s teenage subjects defy stereotypes of American youth during this complicated age. For Class Pictures, Bey photographed young people from all parts of the economic, racial and ethnic spectrum in both public and private high schools in Detroit; Lawrence and Andover, Massachusetts; Orlando; San Francisco; and New York City. Bey spent two to three weeks in each school. The resulting 40 color portraits are arresting both compositionally and psychologically.

"Class Pictures" has already been to nine venues including: Addison Gallery of American Art, Aperture Gallery, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Museum in Baltimore, Milwaukee Art Museum, Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University, Emory University: Visual Arts Gallery, and is currently being shown at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia.

Dawoud will be giving a lecture on his work such as the "Class Pictures" Series Tuesday, November 2nd from 2-4pm in the MassArt Tower Auditorium, which will be open to the public.
Dawoud Bey, Sarah, 2003

Dawoud Bey's Harlem, USA Series (1975-1979) will be on view at The Studio Museum Harlem from November 11 - January 2, 2011. Visit their website for more information: Studio Museum Harlem

From October 5 - January 2, 2011 "Class Pictures will be on view at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, Gainesville. The exhibition is made possible in part by the Harn Program Endowment. Aperture, a not-for-profit organization devoted to photography and the visual arts, has organized this traveling exhibition and produced the accompanying publication. In addition to these compelling individual portraits, this exhibition also features Four Stories, a ten-minute video Bey made of students in Detroit. The larger-than-life projection image with uncomfortably intimate, close-up images of four Detroit students talking about their lives, complements and contrasts the more classically composed still photographs and gives a different perspective on Bey’s work and how we read and understand his young subjects. 

Also view “Dawoud Bey: First-Year Florida Project” featuring up to 20 photographs of 40 UF students. Over an intense two-week artist residency in July, Bey made portraits of pairs of UF First-Year Florida students. They were from diverse backgrounds with different interests, but have been brought together by the commonality of their entrance into UF as the class of 2014. Each of the portraits is accompanied by a brief text written by the students about their hopes, dreams and fears as they embark on this important transition in their lives.

Dawoud Bey began his career as a photographer in 1975 with a series of photographs, “Harlem, USA,” that were later exhibited in his first one-person exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. He has since had numerous exhibitions worldwide, at such institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Barbican Centre in London, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art among many others. The Walker Art Center organized a mid-career survey of his work, “Dawoud Bey: Portraits 1975-1995,” that traveled to institutions throughout the United States and Europe. A major publication of the same title was also published in conjunction with that exhibition. “Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey was published by Aperture in 2007. A traveling exhibition of this work toured to museum throughout the country from 2007 - 2011. In 2008 he completed “Character Project,” commissioned by USA Network and published by Chronicle Books in 2009.

Dawoud Bey, DeMarco, 2003
Bey’s works are included in the permanent collections of numerous museums, both in the United States and abroad, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and other museums world wide. He has been honored with numerous fellowships over the course of his long career, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2002) and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1991).

His critical writings have appeared in publications throughout Europe and the United States, including High Times Hard Times: New York Painting, 1967- 1975, The Van DerZee Studio , David Hammons: Been There Done That            . He has curated a wide range of exhibitions at museums and institutions as well, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Weatherspoon Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Wadsworth Atheneum, GASP (Gallery Artists Studio Projects) and the Hyde Park Art Center. His short form essays appear in a regular blog called “What’s Going On?” (

Dawoud Bey holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University School of Art, and is currently Distinguished College Artist and Associate Professor of Art at Columbia College Chicago, where he has taught since 1998.

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