Seydou Keïta
Malian, 1921-2001
Blue chip
Represented by internationally recognized galleries.
Collected by a major museum
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Selected exhibitions
About Photography,
Seydou Keïta,
Galerie Nathalie Obadia
Seydou Keita,
RMN Grand Palais

In 1948, Seydou Keïta opened a portrait studio in which he would capture a Bamako society teetering on the brink of post-colonialism. Whether of individuals or families, a sense of formality pervades each black-and-white photograph, which Keïta would take in a single shot, directing his subjects to hold distinct poses or overtly display props. Despite their staging, each photograph’s careful framework captures personality and specifics of circumstance, at once yielding intimate portraits intended for personal use and examples of Keïta’s mastery of light and composition. Following Mali’s gain of independence in 1960, Keïta was ordered to close his studio and so buried his collection of negatives; their uncovering and dissemination was only arranged several decades later when a French photojournalist met the artist in Mali and connected him with a private collector.

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