About the Photographer
American, b. 1953
Dawoud Bey's interest in photography was sparked when, at age 15, he attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibition Harlem On My Mind, which included the work of such photographers as James VanDerZee. The experience became part of the inspiration for Bey's very first series, Harlem, USA, begun in 1975. Completed in 1979, the Harlem, USA pictures constituted Bey's first solo exhibition (at the Studio Museum in Harlem) and first publication. He revisited the series in 2005, working from original negatives and vintage prints to produce ten of the original images as a portfolio of carbon pigment prints. The new prints are the same size as those shown in 1979 at the Studio Museum, and this marks their first printing since their original exhibition.
Bey is interested in the portrait as a site of psychological and emotional engagement between the photographer and his model. The multiple panels of Bey's signature style, evident in this 1993 Polaroid triptych, allow him to capture momentary changes in expression, fleeting gestures, and the subtle articulations of personality. Made during his 1993 residency at Columbia College Chicago as part of an educational outreach program organized by the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Bey engaged with Chicago's urban youth through a series of workshops with students at Providence St. Mel School.
Bey's photographs have earned him a variety of fellowships, awards, and commissions. Born in 1953 in Queens, New York, Bey received his BA from Empire State College, State University of New York (1990), and earned his MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (1993). His work has been presented in one-person exhibitions at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Light Work, Syracuse, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, which toured a mid-career retrospective. Bey's work is also included in the collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Museum of the City of New York; and The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, among other institutions. Bey is a professor of photography at Columbia College Chicago.