Seydou Keïta (photographer)

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For the footballer, see Seydou Keita (footballer).

Seydou Keïta (born 1921 in Bamako, Mali — d. 21 November 2001 in Paris, France) was a self-taught portrait photographer from Bamako. He is mostly known for his portraits of people and families he took between 1940 and the early 1960s and that are widely acknowledged not only as a record of Malian society but also as pieces of art.


Seydou Keïta was born in 1921 in Bamako, although the exact date is unknown. He was the oldest in a family of five children. His father Bâ Tièkòró and his uncle Tièmòkò were furniture makers. Keïta developed an interest in photography when his uncle gave him a Kodak Brownie with a film with eight shots in 1935, after returning from a trip to Senegal. In the beginning Keïta worked as both a carpenter and photographer, taking first portraits of his family and friends, later of people in the neighborhood. He learned photography and how to develop from Pierre Garnier, a French photographic supply store owner, and from Mountaga Traoré, his mentor. In 1948 he set up his first studio in the family house in Bamako-Koura behind the main prison.[1]



  • 2011 Seydou Keïta, GALLERY FIFTY ONE, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2001 Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy
  • 2001 You look beautiful like that, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, USA
  • 2001 FLASH AFRIQUE, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria & Düsseldorf Cultural Forum, Germany
  • 1999 PhotoEspana 99, Madrid, Spain
  • 1998-99 Seydou Keita, Saint Louis Museum of Art, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
  • 1997 Seydou Keita, Gagosian Gallery, New York, USA
  • 1997 Seydou Keita, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
  • 1996 Seydou Keita, Minneapolis Institut of Art Minneapolis, USA
  • 1996 National Museum for African Art, Smithsonian Institut, Washington DC
  • 1995 Self Evident, The Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK
  • 1995 Seydou Keita, Fruit Market Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
  • 1994 Seydou Keita, Ginza art's space, Shiseido, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1994 Seydou Keita, Cartier, The Contemporary Art Fondation, Paris, France


  • 2015 The Pistil's Waltz, GALLERY FIFTY ONE, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2011 Paris Photo, Grand Palais, Artur Walther Collection
  • 2010 Contemporary African Photography from the Walther Collection, Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity, Neu-Ulm, Germany
  • 2010 African Stories, Marrakech Art Fair, Marrakech
  • 2009 Masters of Photography, GALLERY FIFTY ONE, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2008 Accrochage, GALLERY FIFTY ONE, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2007 Why Africa?, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin, Italy
  • 2006 100% Africa, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
  • 2006 Vive l’Afrique, Galérie du Jour – Agnès b., Tokyo, Japan
  • 2006 About Africa, part one, GALLERY FIFTY ONE, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2005 Arts of Africa, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, France
  • 2005 African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection, Museum of Fine Art Houston, USA
  • 2003 Les ateliers des désirs, Centre Culturel Français Freiburg, Germany
  • 2000 The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, USA
  • 1998 São Paulo Biennal, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 1996 AFRICAN PHOTOGRAPHERS, Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA

Further reading[edit]

  • Bell, Clare. In/sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, May 24-September 29, 1996. New York, N.Y: Guggenheim Museum, 1996. ISBN 0-8109-6895-9
  • Enwezor, Okwui, and Gabriele Conrath-Scholl. Contemporary African Photography from the Walther Collection: Events of the Self : Portraiture and Social Identity. Burlafingen: The Walther Collection, 2010 ISBN 978-3-86930-157-0
  • Keïta, Seydou. Photographs, Bamako, Mali, 1948-1963. Steidl / Edition7L, 2011. ISBN 978-3-86930-301-7
  • Keïta, Seydou, André Magnin, and Youssouf Cissé. Seydou Keïta. Zurich: Scalo, 1997. ISBN 3-931141-46-2
  • Lamunière, Michelle, Seydou Keita, and Malick Sidibé. You Look Beautiful Like That: The Portrait Photographs of Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé. Cambridge: Harvard University Art Museums, 2001. ISBN 1-891771-20-5


  1. ^ Magnin, André; Cissé, Youssouf Tata (1997). André Magnin, ed. Seydou Keïta. Scalo Publishers. ISBN 3-931141-46-2. 

External links[edit]