Class PicturesPhotographs by Dawoud Bey
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For the past fifteen years, Dawoud Bey has been making striking, large-scale color portraits of students at high schools across the United States. Depicting teenagers from a wide economic, social, and ethnic spectrum—and intensely attentive to their poses and gestures—he has created a highly diverse group portrait of a generation that intentionally challenges teenage stereotypes.
Bey spends two to three weeks in each school, taking formal portraits of individual students, each made in a classroom during one forty-five-minute period. At the start of the sitting, each subject writes a brief autobiographical statement. By turns poignant, funny, or harrowing, these revealing words are an integral part of the project, and the subject's statement accompanies each photograph in the book. Together, the words and images in Class Pictures offer unusually respectful and perceptive portraits that establish Bey as one of the best portraitists at work today.
Dawoud Bey (born 1953, New York) earned his MFA from Yale University School of Art and is professor of photography at Columbia College Chicago. He has been featured in numerous exhibitions—including a midcareer 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.