Dawoud Bey at Whitney Museum of American Art, April 17 – October 3, 2021

“Dawoud Bey (b. 1953) is recognized as one of the most innovative and influential photographers of his generation. Since the beginning of his career, Bey has used his camera to visualize communities and histories that have largely remained underrepresented or even unseen. Starting with his earliest body of work, Harlem, USA(1975–79), Bey has worked primarily in portraiture, making direct and psychologically resonant portrayals of socially marginalized subjects. The exhibition includes his early portraits of Harlem residents, large-scale color Polaroids, and a series of collaborative portraits of high school students, among others. Two recent bodies of work, The Birmingham Project (2012) and Night Coming Tenderly, Black (2017), render American history in forms at once lyrical and immediate. He sees making art as not just a kind of personal expression but as an act of social and political engagement, emphasizing the necessary work of artists and art institutions to break down obstacles to access, to convene communities, and to open dialogue.” — Whitney Museum of American Art

Dawoud Bey, A Boy in Front of the Loew’s 125th Street Movie Theater, Harlem, NY, 1976. Gelatin silver print, 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm). © Dawoud Bey and courtesy of the artist, Sean Kelly Gallery, Stephen Daiter Gallery, and Rena Bransten Gallery.
Dawoud Bey, Three Women at a Parade, Harlem, NY, 1978. Gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 in. (27.9 x 35.6 cm). © Dawoud Bey and courtesy of the artist.
Dawoud Bey, A Young Man Resting on an Exercise Bike, Amityville, NY, 1988. Inkjet print, 30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm). © Dawoud Bey and courtesy of the artist, Sean Kelly Gallery, Stephen Daiter Gallery, and Rena Bransten Gallery.
Dawoud Bey, Two Girls from a Marching Band, Harlem, NY, 1990. Inkjet print, 30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm). © Dawoud Bey and courtesy of the artist, Sean Kelly Gallery, Stephen Daiter Gallery, and Rena Bransten Gallery.
Dawoud Bey, Hilary and Taro, 1992. Two dye diffusion transfer prints (Polaroids), 30 1/8 × 44 in. (76.5 × 111.8 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Photography Committee. © Dawoud Bey.
Dawoud Bey, Martina and Rhonda, 1993. Six dye diffusion transfer prints (Polaroid), 48 × 60 in. (121.9 × 152.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Eric Ceputis and David W. Williams 2018.82a-f. © Dawoud Bey.
Dawoud Bey, Gerard, Edgewater High School, Orlando, FL (2003). Inkjet print, 40 x 32 in. (101.6 x 81.3 cm). © Dawoud Bey and courtesy of the artist, Sean Kelly Gallery, Stephen Daiter Gallery, and Rena Bransten Gallery.
Dawoud Bey, Usha, Gateway High School, San Francisco, CA, 2006. Inkjet print, 40 x 32 in. (101.6 x 81.3 cm). © Dawoud Bey and courtesy of the artist, Sean Kelly Gallery, Stephen Daiter Gallery, and Rena Bransten Gallery.
Dawoud Bey, Don Sledge and Moses Austin, Birmingham, AL, 2012. Inkjet prints, 40 x 64 in. (101.6 cm x 162.56). Rennie Collection, Vancouver. © Dawoud Bey.
Dawoud Bey, Betty Selvage and Faith Speights, Birmingham, AL, 2012. Inkjet prints, 40 x 64 in. (101.6 cm x 162.56). Rennie Collection, Vancouver. © Dawoud Bey.
Dawoud Bey, Mathis Menefee and Cassandra Griffin, Birmingham, AL, 2012. Inkjet prints, 40 x 64 in. (101.6 cm x 162.56). Rennie Collection, Vancouver. © Dawoud Bey.
Dawoud Bey, Untitled #20 (Farmhouse and Picket Fence I), 2017. Gelatin silver print, 44 x 55 in. (111.8 x 139.7 cm). Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Accessions Committee Fund purchase. © Dawoud Bey.
Dawoud Bey, Girls, Ornaments, and Vacant Lot, 2016. Inkjet print, 40 3/8 x 48 1/4 x 2 in. (102.6 × 122.6 × 5.1 cm). © Dawoud Bey and courtesy of the artist, Sean Kelly Gallery, Stephen Daiter Gallery, and Rena Bransten Gallery.
Dawoud Bey, Tourists, Abyssinian Baptist Church, 2016. Inkjet print, 40 3/8 x 48 1/4 x 2 in. (102.6 × 122.6 × 5.1 cm). © Dawoud Bey and courtesy of the artist, Sean Kelly Gallery, Stephen Daiter Gallery, and Rena Bransten Gallery.

Dawoud Bey: An American Project is co-organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is co-curated by Elisabeth Sherman, assistant curator at the Whitney, and Corey Keller, curator of photography at SFMOMA.

Images courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art.