Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey

  • Jun 15, 2008 – Sep 7, 2008
Dawoud Bey, "KEVIN", 2005. Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts.
Dawoud Bey from Class Pictures (Aperture Foundation, September 2007).

For the past fifteen years, Dawoud Bey has made striking, large-scale color portraits of students at high schools across the United States. Depicting teenagers from a wide economic, social, and ethnic spectrum, Bey creates compelling portraits of contemporary youth that transcend stereotypes. The forty photographs included in this exhibition are accompanied by personal statements that are alternately touching, humorous, and harrowing. Together the words and images in Class Pictures deepen our appreciation for young adults and the challenges they face in the twenty-first century.

It is Bey's hope to create a “portrait of American youth in its various social and human dimensions. I believe that such a group of photographs —with the attendant texts—will constitute a significant record and examination of our time…Rather than viewing young people through a lens of social problematics that generalizes the individual, I intend to make a rich and complex description of these subjects.”

Dawoud Bey (born 1953, New York) earned his MFA from Yale University School of Art and is professor of photography at Columbia College in Chicago. He has been featured in numerous exhibitions—including a mid-career survey at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in 1995—and has received several awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is represented by Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago and Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston.

Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey is organized by Aperture, a not-for-profit organization devoted to photography and the visual arts.


An Artist Selects: Portraits from the Collection

This special Atrium exhibition is of portraits from the permanent collection curated by the renowned Chicago-based photographer, Dawoud Bey, whose own work is on view in the exhibition Class Pictures, through September 7. Each work was selected for its ability to create a momentary sense of engagement with the individual portrayed, reminding us that, in spite of our seeming differences, we are bound together in common humanity. Bey’s atrium exhibition will open on August 28 at 5 pm, in conjunction with his lecture. 

We have six galleries located on the first and second levels of the museum, view our gallery map.