In 1975, Dawoud Bey began a series of photographs of the residents of Harlem. He strove to capture the "types" of Harlem's residents: the barber, the patrician, the church ladies, the trendy youth. The series culminated in 1979 in an exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where 25 images were shown under the title Harlem, U.S.A. These images differ from Bey's later large-scale, multi-part images, but still retain the humanity and dignity that are characteristic in his work.
The series—the artist's debut body of work—has never been shown complete again until now, more than 30 years later. And the Art Institute's presentation not only includes the original images, but also five more images (including the two immediately above) that are related to the series, but have never before been printed or exhibited.
Dawoud Bey: Harlem U.S.A. is open through September 2.