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A Man in a Bowler Hat, from the series "Harlem, U.S.A."

A work made of gelatin silver print.
© Dawoud Bey.

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print.


1976, printed by 1979


Dawoud Bey
American, born 1953

About this artwork

Chicago-based photographer Dawoud Bey is known for his portraits of self possessed sitters who directly address the camera. Inspired to take up photography after a teenage visit to the exhibition Harlem on My Mind at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bey eventually decided to document various “types” of residents in Harlem, combining street photography with traditional portraiture. His insider/outsider status—he was born in Queens but had family in Harlem—made him sympathetic to his subjects, yet gave him some distance. The resulting series, completed only three-and-a-half years later, made up his first solo exhibition, Harlem U.S.A. held at the Studio Museum in 1979. Bey recalled that “it was about a particular moment in the evolution of Harlem in which there were clearly visible traces of Harlem’s past. A black man walking around in a bowler hat—that picture I took of him could’ve been made in 1932. It has an almost timeless quality.


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Dawoud Bey


A Man in a Bowler Hat, from the series "Harlem, U.S.A."


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1976


Gelatin silver print


15.5 × 22.8 cm (6 1/8 × 9 1/16 in., image); 35.4 × 27.6 cm (13 3/4 × 10 13/16 in., paper)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Kevin and Jeanne Poorman

Reference Number



© Dawoud Bey.

Extended information about this artwork

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