Dawoud Bey, the photographer known for his large-scale portraits of adolescents published in the 2007 monograph Class Pictures, has two solo exhibitions currently on view in the Chicago area that span his nearly four-decade-long career.
First, the Art Institute of Chicago presents Harlem, USA (on view May 2 – September 9, 2012), featuring some of Bey’s earliest work candid;y documenting street life with a tremendous sense of empathy for a neighborhood to which he had great familial ties. The work, which the institute recently acquired for their permanent collection, is exhibited here for the first time since Bey’s first solo show at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. Bey, who teaches at Columbia College, explains in an interview with the Chicago Reader how he found inspiration for this series and for becoming an artist at the Metropolitan Museum’s 1969 exhibition Harlem On My Mind.
In addition, the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presents Picturing People (on view May 13 – June 24, 2012) a career survey of his work “ranging from chance street encounters to studio portraits,” including a few pieces from his latest series Strangers/Community which features photographs of people from Hyde Park, Chicago, where he now calls home. On Saturday, May 26 Darby English, associate professor of Art History at the University of Chicago and author of How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness (MIT Press, 2007), hosts a free walkthrough of the exhibition.
And watch a three-part video series on our Vimeo page in which Bey, in conversation with Carrie Mae Weems at Aperture Gallery (February of 2008 during his exhibition of Class Pictures), discusses his approach to portraiture through the Harlem series, how he collaborates with subjects to highlight gestures, and how his subjects end up reacting to the project.
Aperture magazine subscribers can also read philosopher and art critic Arthur C. Danto’s analysis of Harlem, USA in issue 189.
Exhibition on view:
May 2 – September 9, 2012
The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Exhibition on view:
May 13 – June 24, 2012
Gallery Walkthrough with Darby English
Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm
The Renaissance Society
5811 S. Ellis Avenue
Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall 418