Barack Obama

Image of Barack Obama, photograph, Dawoud Bey, 2007
by Dawoud Bey, archival pigment photographic print, 2007
Barack Obama served as the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He was also the first African American to assume the presidency. Previously, Obama served in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 until 2004 and then as United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008.
Photographer Dawoud Bey was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago in 2006 to photograph notable Chicagoans of his choosing. In an interview for the Whitney Museum of Art, Bey spoke about this portrait:  
We’re neighbors and friends, and we have a lot of friends in common. … The photograph was made shortly before he announced that he was going to run for president—and there was a growing buzz around him. Things were still quiet, but they were not going to be for long.   … In making that photograph of him, and actually a photograph that I make of anyone, regardless of who it is, … I’m looking for the same thing. That quality of momentary interiority, that sense of some complex aspect of the person coming momentarily to the surface. (  
Dawoud Bey is currently a Distinguished College Artist and Professor of Art at Columbia College Chicago, where he has taught since 1998. In 2017, Bey was the recipient of a John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. Bey is known for his portraits of young adults, often members of a specific community or group that he would interact with during his photographic sessions. His subjects are collaborators in his process, helping to set the tone of familiarity and directness evident in Bey's photographs.

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