Thu February 27 - Mon May 25, 2020

Dawoud Bey: An American Project

Since the 1970s, Dawoud Bey has used his camera to represent communities and histories that have largely remained underrepresented or even unseen. Bey has worked primarily in portraiture, making tender and direct portrayals of black subjects both on the street and in the studio.

Featuring approximately 80 works, the exhibition, co-organized with the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, spans the breadth of Bey's career, from the 1970s to the present. Organized both thematically and chronologically, it ranges from his earliest street portraits in Harlem (1975-78) to his most recent exploration of the Underground Railroad (2017).

"The power of Bey's work comes from the marriage of his extraordinary formal skill as a photographer with his deeply held belief in the political power of representation," said Corey Keller, curator of photography at SFMOMA. "He sees making art as not just a personal expression but as an act of social responsibility, emphasizing the necessary work of artists and art institutions to break down obstacles to access, to convene communities and open dialogue. It has been truly inspiring to work with him on this project."

Describing his process, Bey has said, "It begins with the subject, a deep interest in wanting to describe the Black subject in a way that's as complex as the experiences of anyone else. It's meant to kind of reshape the world one person at a time."


Image: Dawoud Bey, Three Women at a Parade, Harlem, NY, 1978; courtesy the artist; © Dawoud Bey
Since the 1970s, Dawoud Bey has used his camera to represent communities and histories that have largely remained underrepresented or even unseen. Bey has worked primarily in portraiture, making tender and direct portrayals of black subjects both on the street and in the studio....
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Date/Times:
  • Thu Feb 27 (10am - 9pm)
  • Fri Feb 28 (10am - 5pm)
  • Sat Feb 29 (10am - 5pm)
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