Sean Kelly announces that the gallery now represents Dawoud Bey

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Sean Kelly announces that the gallery now represents Dawoud Bey
Dawoud Bey, Portrait by Whitten Sabbatini.

NEW YORK, NY.- Recognized as one of America’s most influential photographers, Dawoud Bey is celebrated for his rich and psychologically compelling portraits. Named a MacArthur Fellow in 2017, Bey explores in his work a range of formal and material methodologies to create images and projects that connect deeply with the communities he photographs. Highly regarded as an educator as well as a photographer, Bey is renowned for a highly collaborative process defined by the empathy he brings to his subjects and the complexity with which he depicts them.

Bey came to attention with Harlem, U.S.A. (1975-1979) a visual journey through the iconic neighborhood that, in 1979, also comprised his first solo exhibition at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Since then, he has produced successive bodies of work that engage countless individuals to comprise collective portraits of disparate cultures and societies, some of which are commonly overlooked. Sean Kelly states, “We are delighted that Dawoud has joined the gallery. I have admired Dawoud’s work for many years and we have been friends for a long time. We very much look forward to welcoming him to the gallery and representing his inspiring and important body of work.”

Bey has pioneered community and museum-based projects that redefine how artists engage with institutional spaces while making them more accessible to the communities they serve. Class Pictures (2002-2006) expands upon a series of portraits the artist first created during a residency in 1992 at the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Andover. In this series, Bey collaborated with young people and institutions throughout the United States. These striking, large-scale color portraits of students depict teenagers from a range of economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds, creating a diverse collection of portraits of a generation that challenge teenage stereotypes.

Recent bodies of work focus on the construction of history and memory. The Birmingham Project (2013) memorializes the lives of six young African American children killed in the bombing of the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama and its aftermath: for Harlem Redux (2014–2017), Bey revisited the neighborhood to witness an urban landscape dramatically transformed by gentrification; and in Night Coming Tenderly, Black, 2017 Bey focused on architecture and landscape to visualize the historical subject of the Underground Railroad. Bey continues his interpretation of collective experience and history, using photography as a vehicle to make them resonant in the contemporary moment.

In 2020, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in tandem with the Whitney Museum of American Art will present Dawoud Bey: An American Project; the exhibition will also travel to the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. He will have his first solo exhibition at Sean Kelly, New York in the winter of 2020. Dawoud Bey stated, “I’m pleased to be joining Sean Kelly Gallery. The gallery's program is a rigorous one that I’m looking forward to participating in and adding my own work too.”

Dawoud Bey holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University School of Art and is currently Professor of Art and a former Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago. In 2017 Bey was awarded the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship. He is the recipient of fellowships from United States Artists, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, amongst other honors.

Dawoud Bey’s work has been included in important solo and group exhibitions worldwide and is included in the permanent collections of 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, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Tate Modern, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and other museums internationally.

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