Perpetual diaspora: The Art Institute of Chicago acquires “Harlem U.S.A.” by Dawoud Bey
The Art Institute of Chicago has added the complete set of Harlem, U.S.A a series of 25 images by acclaimed photographer Dawoud Bey (American, born 1953)–to its permanent collection. The acquisition of the mostly vintage prints was made possible by contributions from more than two dozen patrons.
Harlem, U.S.A. will be presented in the Modern Wing’s Bucksbaum Gallery (G189) from May 2 through September 9, 2012 . This is the first time since its premiere more than 30 years ago that the artist’s debut series will be seen in its entirety. It will include an additional five photographs related to the series but never before printed or exhibited.
In 1979, Dawoud Bey exhibited 25 photographs at the Studio Museum in Harlem under the title Harlem, U.S.A. Bey was affected by the 1969 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition Harlem on My Mind which inspired him to become an artist. His ensuing work earned him a residency at the Studio Museum.
In addition to Harlem, U.S.A. the Art Institute invited Bey to select works that “illuminate his inspirations” from the museum’s permanent collection. These include works by photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Roy DeCarava, Irving Penn, August Sander, James VanDerZee. A major career survey of Bey’s work from after Harlem, U.S.A. is also being presented at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago from May 13 through June 24, 2012. In addition, sn 88-page catalogue for Harlem, U.S.A. includes essays by Matthew S. Witkovsky, Richard and Ellen Sandor Chair and Curator, Department of Photography at the Art Institute, and Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, author of Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America.
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