Winner, Lucie Photo Book Prize / Photography Book of the Year, 2019
Recipient of a 2017 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” Dawoud Bey has created a body of photography that masterfully portrays the contemporary American experience on its own terms and in all of its diversity.
Dawoud Bey: Seeing Deeply offers a forty-year retrospective of the celebrated photographer’s work, from his early street photography in Harlem to his current images of Harlem gentrification. Photographs from all of Bey’s major projects are presented in chronological sequence, allowing viewers to see how the collective body of portraits and recent landscapes create an unparalleled historical representation of various communities in the United States. Leading curators and critics—Sarah Lewis, Deborah Willis, David Travis, Hilton Als, Jacqueline Terrassa, Rebecca Walker, Maurice Berger, and Leigh Raiford—introduce each series of images.
Revealing Bey as the natural heir of such renowned photographers as Roy DeCarava, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, and James Van Der Zee, Dawoud Bey: Seeing Deeply demonstrates how one man’s search for community can produce a stunning portrait of our common humanity.
Dawoud Bey’s work is held by major collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Portrait Gallery, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In addition to the MacArthur fellowship, Bey’s honors include the United States Artists Guthman Fellowship, 2015; the Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, 2002; and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1991. He is Professor of Art and a former Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago.
[Bey's] photography is inseparable from his audience and would be diminished without their approval and loyalty. If we hear the rhetoric of protest echoing in the nine chapters of this glorious book, it's against those who would underestimate the control, skill, resilience and shared humanity necessary for someone to make art with a camera of the quality we're holding.
[Bey's] 'The Birmingham Project' is at D.C.'s National Gallery of Art, but if you can't make it, this imperial-size book is a fine alternative.
~New York Magazine
Seeing Deeply reveals [Bey's] decades-long exploration of community, memory, and photography...Ultimately, [Bey's] work is an ongoing exploration of photography's possibilities, informed by his research and cultural influences.
~New York Times
Producing contemporary photography is a delicate negotiation between aesthetic intuition and questions of autonomy. The medium is a chess game of vision and ethics—a game Dawoud Bey seems to have mastered…Through his every interaction with individual subjects and broader communities, the images he constructs are uniquely attentive to the weight of specificity. They tell stories, but not ones concerned with tidiness. Their power lies in narrative left lingering—thoughts of what remains outside the frame.
[Bey's] elevation of the every day to the extraordinary is in the tradition of Gordon Parks and Roy DeCarava, but the legacy is all his own.
A mammoth retrospective volume, [Dawoud Bey] makes clear that a genius vision has coursed through [Bey's] work for more than 40 years.
[A]n unparalleled historical representation of various communities in the United States. Prodigious is an apt descriptor for Seeing Deeply.
This retrospective is…a magnificent testament to what can be shown about people's pride and hope, and in an exemplary yet subtle manner seems to posit the idea that all us individuals, no matter what our background and heritage may be, are interested in building a better future and would benefit from collaboration. This photobook is destined to become a classic!
~The PhotoBook Journal
[A] lavish retrospective.
~The Chicago Tribune
A] testament not only to Bey's long career as a working photographer but to an artist who is relentlessly exploring, reworking, and rethinking his method and medium.
~American Suburb X
[A] voluminous monograph with all the luxurious detail of a Phaidon-style tome and all the scholarly heft of a catalogue raisonné.
Through Bey's lens, his subjects receive a level of respect and a glimpse into their shared humanity that is nothing short of marvelous.
~Zócalo Public Square
A beautiful retrospective of [Bey's] work.
An essential monograph...An artist whose craft draws forth the nuances of human expression, Bey shares as much about his subjects as he does about himself in this intimate and important book.
This magnificent effusion of photographs and commentary is more than a riveting artistic and social experience; it is also a stunning exhibition of the human spirit.
Bey’s portraits prompt talk of souls; these are pictures that stare back. The gazes Bey captures on film simulate the experience of encounter...This is the drama of Bey’s work, the relationship between picture and viewer, who is held by the image such that she cannot merely be a passerby but is confronted, rather, with questions of the soul.
~Religious Studies Review
This is a magnificent achievement. Dawoud Bey is a modern master.
~Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University
Dawoud Bey: Seeing Deeply is a timeless masterpiece for the ages. With its sincerity, concern, and attention to communities and lives lost, displaced, or erased, it is a documentary record for US history. I’ve never seen a book of this depth and magnitude about the intentions and thoughts of an artist’s own life and work.
~LaToya Ruby Frazier
This book is a gold mine . . . a gift of a well-measured life. Throughout these pages, Bey graciously allows us to walk through his mind as he tussles with one of the great questions in photography: how best to describe a people at a particular historical moment? As both participant and observer, he delivers the answers!
~Carrie Mae Weems
In Bey’s penetrating pictures, he seeks and struggles to discover the life force that unites us all in the impossible search for a common humanity. His precise, tenderly seen subjects are subjects we have always known, but have not; should have known, but did not; but now, must know. In their quietude, grace, and virtue they have an urgency for our time, positing an ethics of seeing and being.
~Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art
Introduction. The Art of Negotiation by Sarah Lewis
Harlem, U.S.A. Framing Harlem by Deborah Willis
Small Camera Work. The Daily Miracle by David Travis
Black-and-White Type 55 Polaroid Street Portraits. Young Man at a Tent Revival by Hilton Als
20 × 24 Polaroid Works. From the Streets into the Studio by Dawoud Bey
Class Pictures. What Is the “Work”? by Jacqueline Terrassa
Strangers/Community. For Now. by Rebecca Walker
The Birmingham Project. A Remembrance of Lives Lost by Maurice Berger
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