Dawoud Bey

Dawoud Bey

1953 –


Dawoud Bey began his career as an artist 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. Since then, his works have exhibited by and included in numerous institutional collections such as 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, the National Gallery of Art, and other museums worldwide.


  • Dawoud Bey will be inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame at a ceremony October 29th, 2021.

Above: Dawoud Bey, Mary Parker and Caela Cowan, Birmingham, AL 2012
Right: Dawoud Bey, A Girl With Knife Nose Pin, Brooklyn 1990

In 1995 the Walker Art Center organized a mid-career survey of his work, “Dawoud Bey: Portraits 1975-1995,” curated by Kellie Jones, and traveled to institutions throughout the United States and Europe. Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey was published by Aperture in 2007. A traveling exhibition of this work toured museums throughout the country from 2007 – 2011. Harlem, USA was published by Yale University Press in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012, where the work was exhibited in its entirety for the first time since it was first shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. A survey exhibition of his work, Picturing People, opened at the Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago in 2012, and traveled to museums in the United States.

His recent project, Night Coming Tenderly, Black, referenced the presence of The Underground Railroad in the Cleveland, OH landscape. That work debuted in a site-specific installation at the FRONT International Triennial in Cleveland in 2018, and at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019 for its first museum showing. This project followed The Birmingham Project (2012) that commemorated the lives of the six young African Americans killed on September 15, 1963.

A 40-year retrospective monograph of his work, Dawoud Bey: Seeing Deeply, was published in 2018 by the University of Texas Press.

In 2020 – 2021, Bey’s work will be the subject of a traveling retrospective exhibition entitled “Dawoud Bey: An American Project” co-organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. After its debut at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bey’s retrospective will travel to the High Museum of Art in November 2020 and then to the Whitney Museum of American Art for an opening in April of 2021. In conjunction with the career-spanning exhibition, Yale University Press published Dawoud Bey: Two American Projects in February 2020.

Born in New York, NY, Dawoud Bey earned his MFA from Yale University School of Art, and is currently a Professor of Art and a former Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago. He has been honored with numerous fellowships over the course of his long career, including a MacArthur “Genius Award” Fellowship, as well as a United States Artists Fellowship, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, among many others.

Dawoud Bey is represented by Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco.


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Below: Dawoud Bey, Girls, Ornaments, and Vacant Lot, Harlem, NY 2016
Bottom: Dawoud Bey, Untitled #1 (Picket Fence and Farmhouse), 2019
Right: Dawoud Bey, A Man in a Bowler Hat, 1976