A Career in Focus
Photography professor Dawoud Bey is included on Newcity’s “Art 50” list of the top 50 artists in Chicago – at number eight no less. This honor from the Chicago-based magazine caps off an all-around eventful summer for Bey, who also recently wrapped up two Chicago exhibitions and curated an exhibit at Art Expo Chicago.
The NewCity article, which ranks the best “local living artists,” ends with the line, “Although his interests take him all over the world, such as his recent project in Birmingham, Alabama, on the fiftieth anniversary of the church bombings there, we cannot imagine a Chicago without the warmth of Dawoud Bey’s presence.”
In July, the New York Times wrote a feature about Bey and a review of his two concurrent shows, Harlem, USA at the Art Institute of Chicago and Picturing People at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. The article refers to his “underlying humanism… a quality of clarity and sympathy and understanding” as well as the “grace notes [that] appear again and again in Mr. Bey’s photographs.” Just two examples, these quotes are among the myriads of accolades given to Bey, who began to develop his body of work in 1975 and had his first one-person exhibit in 1979.
His two shows received other media coverage this summer as well. Chicago Magazine explains that the two shows “provide a comprehensive look at Bey’s career to date. And in an interview on “Chicago Live!,” the Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan introduces him as “one of the world’s great photographers.”
Over the course of his career, Bey has not just exhibited work in Chicago, but at prestigious institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Fogg Art Museum, The Addison Gallery of American Art, the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He also has work in the permanent collections of the Art Institute, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, according to Chicago Magazine.
(Photo credit: Jason Smikle)