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Artnet News
Portraits by Dawoud Bey Look American History Squarely in the Eye
Christian Viveros-Fauné
May 28, 2014

"The images are, at once, poignant, poetic and plainspoken. Conflations of time past and time present, the artist’s photographs record 26 of history’s living subjects while proposing a future that looks dangerous Charles Murray–type revisionism squarely in the eye."

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SF Weekly
Post-Traumatic: Recovering History Through Photos and Flying Books
Jonathan Curiel
September 25, 2013

"Bey's images, on display at Rena Bransten Gallery in downtown San Francisco, let us stare into the eyes of eyewitnesses to history. The black boys and girls who posed for Bey are the same age as the children who lost their lives in 1963. The black men and women who sat for Bey are the same age those murdered kids would be if they'd survived the bombing and its aftermath: What could have been; what is...Bey's work makes the tragedy's 50th anniversary seem much more tangible. It's photography as a fulcrum, letting us consider an old racial flashpoint in an entirely new way."

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New York Times Lens
Reimagining A Tragedy, 50 Years Later
Maurice Berger
September 13, 2013

"By transforming an epochal story into a flesh and blood reality, “The Birmingham Project” invites us to reflect on the consequences of a historic crime, and, through images of contemporary Americans who are no different from us, to examine our personal relationship to it. Identifying with the surrogates of six martyrs — young and old — we better comprehend, and feel, the magnitude of their loss: innocent childhoods obliterated in a violent flash, a half-century of wisdom learned and milestones achieved that would never be."

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Art Daily
The Birmingham Museum of Art uses Contemporary Art
to commemorate Civil Rights bombing
September 10, 2013

"As the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham approaches, photographer Dawoud Bey pays homage to some of the youngest victims of the Civil Rights Movement, killed that day: Addie Mae Collins (14), Denise McNair (11), Carole Robertson (14), and Cynthia Wesley (14), Virgil Ware (13) and Johnny Robinson (16). "

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Birmingham News
Dawoud Bey's photography exhibit reconciles Birmingham's tragic past with the present day reality
by Michael Huebner
September 4, 2013

"During the last five months, the Chicago-based photographer has taken portraits of 75 African-Americans from Birmingham, scrutinizing, editing and matching them for “The Birmingham Project.” On Sunday, Sept. 8, at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Bey will unveil the finished product – 16 diptychs, each of which pairs 11- to 14-year girls and boys with women and men 50 years their senior."

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Birmingham News
Dawoud Bey Capturing Images of Young and Old for Exhibition at
Birmingham Museum of Art
by Michael Huebner
December 12, 2012

"Dawoud Bey was 11 years old when he first saw a photograph of Sarah Collins, severely wounded with gauze bandages over her eyes. The picture appeared in a book his parents brought home – Lorraine Hansberry's “The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for Equality.” My folks didn't bring it home and say, 'Here, look at it,' but they didn't put it away, either,” Bey said last week at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

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Dawoud Bey's Birmingham Project
by Jim Singh
November 20, 2012

"It’s not surprising that acclaimed portrait photographer Dawoud Bey first became aware of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing through a photograph. When he was a youngster growing up in Queens in New York City, Bey’s parents had brought home a book of photographs of the Civil Rights Movement. One particular image has never left him."

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The New York Times
Dawoud Bey's Portraits of '70s Harlem, Gathered for Today
by Gwenda Blair
July 25, 2012

"This summer at the Art Institute of Chicago, for the first time since the 1979 Studio Museum show, his Harlem series is being exhibited in its entirety. The Art Institute set up a special fund-raising drive to purchase prints, mostly vintage, of the original series (for a price Mr. Bey described as in “the low six figures”) and is also presenting other works in its collection by photography pioneers, including James Van Der Zee, Irving Penn and Roy DeCarava, all of whom influenced Mr. Bey.

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Art in America
Community Pictures: Q+A with Dawoud Bey
by Lisa Dent
July 6, 2012

With concurrent solo exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, this summer offers a comprehensive look at 30 years of Dawoud Bey's photographic work in one city. "Harlem, U.S.A.," on view in Gallery 189 at the Art Institute, contains 25 black-and-white photographs completed while Bey was an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem in the late 1970s. The Renaissance Society's survey exhibition includes over 30 years of work, culminating in his most recent series, "Strangers/Community," portraits of residents of Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood.

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Artnet Magazine
Dawoud Bey, Picturing People
by Pedro Velez
May 18, 2012

"Dawoud Bey is Chicago’s holy mountain, a man who towers over the city like no other local artist. You can always find him at openings, speaking at public forums or doing open crits. He is a beloved educator and father figure to many, and if you ask for advice or have a question about some bit of historical minutiae he’ll deliver, which he also does generously on his famous blog What’s Going On. Now Chicago is reciprocating that love with “Dawoud Bey: Picturing People,” May 13-June 24, 2012, a quaint yet outstanding 30-year survey at the Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago. The Art Institute of Chicago is also joining the celebration..."

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Art Daily
Art Institute of Chicago Acquires Harlem, U.S.A. Photo Series from Dawoud Bey
May 14, 2012

"The Art Institute of Chicago has recently added the complete set of Harlem, U.S.A.--an iconic series of 25 images by acclaimed photographer Dawoud Bey (American, born 1953)--to its permanent collection. This major acquisition of photographs, almost all in vintage prints, has been made possible by contributions from more than two dozen patrons, including members of the Photography Committee and the Leadership Advisory Committee (LAC). To celebrate the occasion, the Art Institute will present Harlem, U.S.A. in the Modern Wing's Bucksbaum Gallery (G189) from May 2 through September 9, 2012 . This is the first time since its premiere more than 30 years ago that the artist's debut series will be seen in its entirety..."

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Chicago Magazine
A Window into Dawoud Bey's World
by Nina Kokotas Hahn
May 2012

"Back in the 1970s, when he was first starting out, the photographer and Columbia College professor Dawoud Bey spent a lot of time looking: at people on the street, at portraits in museums and galleries, at magazines with pictures by legends like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. Forty years and numerous grants (including from the Guggenheim and the NEA) later, Bey is enjoying three concurrent exhibitions in Chicago devoted to his work..."

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Chicago Reader - The Bleader
Q&A with Dawoud Bey: Harlem, U.S.A.
by Elly Fishman
May 2, 2012

"Nearly 40 years ago, photographer Dawoud Bey was just beginning his first project in Harlem, New York. Bey, who now teaches at Columbia College, grew up in Queens and spent his high school years playing in garage bands. In 1969, when he was 16, he made his way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the exhibit “Harlem on My Mind”—a visit that marked the beginning of Bey’s photographic inquiry..."

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TIME Magazine LightBox
Harlem Revisited: A New Look at Dawoud Bey's New York Portraits
by Lily Rothman
May 1, 2012

"Present-day Chicago is not Harlem in 1979. Present-day Harlem isn’t even Harlem in 1979. But at the Art Institute of Chicago’s new exhibition Dawoud Bey: Harlem USA, some things have stayed the same. The show comprises the 25 original prints from Bey’s noteworthy 1979 exhibition of the series at the Studio Museum in Harlem, plus five previously unpublished prints from the same era..."

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Time Out Chicago
Dawoud Bey at the Renaissance Society and Art Institute of Chicago
by Lauren Weinberg
April 30, 2012

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Pittsburgh Tribune
Class Pictures Are Telling Portrait of Youth
Kurt Shaw
February 19, 2012

"We all have high-school pictures we look back on with a mix of nostalgia and amusement. But the portraits of students from 17 high schools across the country that photographer Dawoud Bey took between 2003 and 2007 are definitely something a bit more poignant..."

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Dawoud Bey's Class Pictures Exhibit Offers Intense Closeness
by Debra Brehmer
June 13, 2009

"Every teenager, shown close up with a shallow depth of field, becomes an elegant and shifting series of angles, patterns and colors. This landscape of elbows, hand gestures, diagonal lines of the torso and the shining directness and brightness of each young gaze forms dynamic and beautiful images, a distant kin to the great Dutch portraitists who first discovered the hyper-real seduction of oil paint..."

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Time Out Chicago
The Milwaukee Art Museum Offers A summer of "American Originals."
by Lauren Weinberg
June 18-24, 2009

"The large-scale portraits of contemporary teenagers derive their power from strong compositions, Bey’s knack for gaining his subjects’ trust and the autobiographical statement each teen writes. These young men and women display varying degrees of introspection, ambition and optimism...The students’ stories stayed with us long after we left the museum..."

Baltimore City Paper
Class Actions: Looking at Teens Looking at Themselves
by Martin Johnson
January 28, 2009

"In the traveling show Class Pictures, now at the Contemporary Museum, Bey continues this political and personal work with photographs of high school students."

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The Washington Post
His Photos Are Only Part of the Picture,
The Story Behind the Pictures
by Michael O'Sullivan
December 28, 2008

"How much can a portrait reveal -- or conceal -- of what photographer Dawoud Bey calls the subject's "interior self"? That question is at the heart of two related shows at Baltimore's Walters Art Museum and Contemporary Museum."

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Art Daily
Contemporary Museum, Walters Art Museum Offer Dawoud Bey Exhibitions
December 13, 2008

"At the Walters, Portraits Re/Examined: A Dawoud Bey Project will feature contemporary photographs by Bey juxtaposed with historic portraits from the museum’s private collection. Dawoud Bey: Class Pictures, a companion exhibition of more than 40 of Bey’s portraits, will be on view at the Contemporary Museum."

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Baltimore Examiner
Two Dawoud Bey Exhibitions Open This Saturday
by Laura Kuah
December 8, 2008

"Kudos to both the Walters and the Contemporary for finding new and exciting ways to get urban/inner-city young people involved in the city's various museums, rather than simply bringing them in on "educational" field trips."

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Baltimore Sun
A Portrait of Students As Young Walters Curators
by Edward Gunts
December 7, 2008

"Last spring, Juliana Biondo was a high school junior, merely learning about art. But this fall, she has gone from student to teacher. The 17-year-old is one of the first high school students chosen to co-curate an exhibit at Baltimore's Walters Art Museum, a portrait show that explores themes of race, class and identity over the centuries.

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Go Triad
August 21, 2008
by Joe Scott
Class Pictures by Dawoud Bey

"Class Pictures" reveals something that Bey says we see too little of in the media: Young Americans in their element, relaxed and sharing part of who they really are."

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The Chicago Tribune
Journeying Beyond Vacation
by Alan G. Artner
August 21, 2008

“Are we there yet?” is the impatient cry of children engaged in travel. It implies a destination but also shows uncertainty about what that is. It suggests the children know where they’re going only when they arrive, and ultimately that may be less important than the time they spend in passage."

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Time Out Chicago
Are We There Yet
by Lauren Weinberg
Issue 180, August 7 - 13, 2008

"As the average price of gasoline in Chicago hovers well above $4 per gallon, Dawoud Bey—who curated “Are We There Yet?”—suggests travel frustrations in the U.S. are giving Americans a taste of the restrictions on movement experienced by most of the world."

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New City
At Home in All Places
by Jason Faumberg
August 13, 2008

"Curator Dawoud Bey considered the various perspectives of travel, from the poignant to the leisurely. For some, travel means simply purchasing a ticket. For others, restrictions, documents and planning preclude a first step."

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Hello Beautiful!
Chicago Public Radio
Host, Sam Weller
Broadcast July 27, 2008

Listen to Interview

Sharkforum Praise: Dawoud Bey
by Mark Staff Brandl
April 15, 2008

"Yes, we can also point out and extol the virtues of artists we admire. One of the greatest treasures Chicago has is the photographer Dawoud Bey."

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Class Pictures

"In an extraordinary new book, photographer Dawoud Bey photographs and talks with American teenagers, creating a diverse group portrait of a generation that defies our expectation."

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Flyp Media
Still LIves
Issue 3 • April 11, 2008

"Teenagers are often limited by social stereotypes. But Photographer Dawoud Bey sees them as misunderstood."

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American Photo On Campus
Class Pictures
by Mary Goodwin
March 2008

"A new monograph by Columbia College photo teacher Dawoud Bey penetrates the social veneer of American high school students."

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Art + Auction
Artinfo: A Talk with Photographer Dawoud Bey
by Julie Brener, Stephanie McBride
February 2, 2008

"Art+Auction commissioned Dawoud Bey to photograph the four art patrons who appear in this month’s feature story on African-American collectors: dealer June Kelly, curator Lowery Stokes Sims and collectors Danny Simmons and Tonya Lewis Lee. Here he chats about the project, his long friendships with all of the subjects save for Lee, whom he was delighted to meet for the first time while on assignment for A+A, and his own art collection."

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About The Cover
by Lyle Rexer
January/February 200

The New Yorker
Goings On About Town: Art
by Vince Aletti
January 28, 2008

"Forty large-scale color portraits of American high-school students, which Bey calls “Class Pictures,” cap two decades of photographing teen-agers and bring him closer to his subjects than ever before." 

The Secret Lives of Teens
Worth Your Time
by Jennie Yabroff
January 26, 2008

The New York Sun
Yearbook Upgrade
by William Meyers
January 17, 2008

"Who, having once survived adolescence, would wish again to be a teenager? Teenagers have attained their adult height and sexual characteristics, but are emotionally and intellectually immature; nowadays their development is further delayed because they are immersed in a popular culture more likely to infantilize them than to help them grow up, and educated in schools where the curriculum is liable to be mush. Into those schools came portrait photographer Dawoud Bey; 40 of his "Class Pictures" are currently on display at the Aperture Gallery."

Reviews: Dawoud Bey, Addison Gallery of American Art
by Francine Koslow Miller
December 2007

"African-American photographer Dawoud Bey, who first garnered widespread recognition in the early '90s for black-and-white portraits taken on the streets of Harlem, has spent the past fifteen years focusing on diverse populations of teenagers. Such revealing or ambiguous intersections of physical nuance and verbal expression mesh with the detailed mapping of facial topography made possible by Bey's large-format camera to produce a truly engrossing study."

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Boston Globe
Teens in America, Pose by Pose
by Cate McQuaid
September 23, 2007

"Like his subjects, Dawoud Bey's work compels and frustrates."

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Looking Back
by Vince Aletti
May 28, 2007
Critic's Notebook

"If you were interested in the art of photography in the early nineteen-seventies, there were very few places in New York to indulge that passion. The scrappiest, most unpredictable, and least inviting was the Midtown Y Photography Gallery, a stark corridor near the locker rooms in a Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. on East Fourteenth Street that provided hundreds of photographers with a launching pad between 1972 and 1996 (it moved to another equally awkward location for its last three years). An astute exhibition at the New York Public Library, drawn from its holdings of the gallery’s archives, includes early photos by Peter Hujar, Dawoud Bey, Larry Fink, Anthony Barboza, Arlene Gottfried, Ari Marcopoulos, Abelardo Morell, and Michael Spano, but it’s just as sensitive to work by people whose careers fizzled and stalled. By including the washouts along with the breakouts, the show re-creates the gritty, unvarnished texture of a crucial period in photography’s history both as a medium and a market. A wall of pictures taken along the entire length of Fourteenth Street by Sy Rubin in the late seventies and early eighties grounds the show in a neighborhood that’s seen it all."

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A Scene that Was Heard
By Willaim Meyers
April 26, 2007

"Only Paris's photographers have invested as much of their art in memorializing their city as New York's photographers have. Although Paris now has several institutions devoted to displaying photographic art, New York has more, and had them earlier. (When it comes to commercial galleries, there is no contest: We beat everybody.) Two of New York's most important institutional venues of photography — one past, one present — meet in the New York Public Library's exhibition Making the Scene: the Midtown Y Photographic Gallery, 1972–1996, which opens tomorrow."

"The show of close to 200 items is housed in the 42nd Street library's stately D. Samuel and Jeane H. Gottesman Exhibition Hall, with its marble floors, beaux-arts architectural details, and spectacular carved wooden ceiling. The Midtown Y Photographic Gallery wasn't so fancy: It was in the second-floor hallway of the Young Men'sYoung Women's Hebrew Association on 14th Street between First and Second avenues. The building was totally undistinguished architecturally, the walls were a pedestrian pale green, and commercial fluorescent fixtures provided the lighting, but there was a constant thrum of activity. Fliers announced programming for everyone, and there was always lots going on. "

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Here Is New York: A Gallery’s Album of 25 Years of City Life
By Martha Schwendener
May 15, 2007

"In the early 1970s, when few art galleries showed photography, the Midtown Y Photography Gallery was a rare pioneer devoted to the medium. An exhibition at the New York Public Library revisits the gallery’s 25-year history and the role it played as photography moved into the art world."

"Making the Scene: The Midtown Y Photography Gallery, 1972-1996 was organized by Stephen C. Pinson, the library’s curator of photography. Its more than 160 photographs track the fortunes of the gallery, which was founded in a corridor of the Emanu-El Midtown Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. by the photographer Larry Siegel, with the help of the financier and philanthropist Robert Menschel."

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