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Baldwin Lee Black Americans in the South

An Online Exhibition

Columbia, South Carolina, 1984
Vicksburg, Mississippi - Young Man and Boy at Dusk, 1983
DeFuniak Springs, Florida, 1984
Georgetown, Georgia, 1984
Lula, Mississippi - Woman in Hat, 1984
Hughs, Arkansas, 1984
Columbia, South Carolina, 1984
Monroe, Louisiana - Basketball Players, 1985
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1986
Walls, Mississippi - Flare, 1984
Plain Dealing, Louisiana - Baby in Lap, 1984
Monroe, Louisiana - Mother and Children, 1985
New Orleans, Louisiana - Grandfather, Daughter, Grandson, 1984
Monroe, Louisiana - Consecutive Twins, 1985
New Orleans, Louisiana, 1984
Vicksburg, Mississippi - Alan Pulling Friend, 1983
Mobile, Alabama, 1984
Bessemer, Alabama, 1985
Vicksburg, Mississippi - Children Holding Hands, 1984
Vicksburg, Mississippi - Alan's Living Room, 1983
Rosedale, Mississippi - Hanging Baby, 1985
Charleston, South Carolina, 1984
Garnett, South Carolina, 1985
Mobile, Alabama, 1985
Rosedale, Mississippi - Screen, 1986
Vicksburg, Mississippi - Big Letters, 1984
Tunica, Mississippi, 1984
Boyle, Mississippi - Whispering, 1985
Walls, Mississippi - Bicycles, 1984
Richland, Georgia, 1984
Shreveport, Louisiana, 1986
Vicksburg, Mississippi - Barber, 1983
Norcross, Georgia, 1986

Press Release

When Baldwin Lee first arrived in the south, he did not know what he would photograph. He took a 2,000-mile exploratory trip on the back roads photographing anything that interested him with his 4 x 5-inch view camera. "My subjects included landscapes, cityscapes, close-up details, night studies, interiors of commercial and residential buildings, and portraits of people—white and black, old and young, rural and urban, well-to-do and poor," he writes in his manuscript, In Consideration of Photographing in the South. "Upon proofing the film, I saw that the suspicion I had had while making the photographs was confirmed—what interested me most were the pictures of black Americans who lived in poverty." Lee was surprised by the strong empathy he found he had for the subject.

Lee studied photography with Minor White at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1972. Lee then continued his education at Yale University, where he studied with Walker Evans. He received a Master of Fine Arts in 1975. After school, Lee began teaching photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and then at Yale, while creating his photographs, which at the time were rooted in the exploration of the contemporary built environment. Lee's later work from the early to mid-1980s entitled, Black Americans in the South is a compelling and empathic portrait that represents its subjects within their rural environments, expressing the joys of childhood, the gravity of adult life, and the places in between.  

Baldwin Lee's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Chrysler Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the University of Kentucky Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Museum of the City of New York. He has been honored with fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1984) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1984 and 1990).