Seydou Keïta (photographer)

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Seydou Keïta (1921 — 21 November 2001) was a Malian photographer. 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.


Keïta was born in 1921 in Bamako, Mali, 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]

Keïta died in 2001 in Paris.

Publication by Keïta[edit]


Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 2001: Flash Afrique, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria & Düsseldorf Cultural Forum, Germany[2]
  • 2011: Seydou Keïta, Gallery Fifty One, Antwerp, Belgium[3]

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1996: African Photographers, Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA[4]
  • 2005: African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, USA[5]
  • 2006: About Africa, part one, Gallery Fifty One, Antwerp, Belgium[6]
  • 2006: Some Tribes, Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland[7]
  • 2006: Vive l’Afrique, Galerie du Jour – Agnès b., Tokyo, Japan[8]
  • 2006: 100% Africa, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain[9]
  • 2007: Why Africa?, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin, Italy[10]
  • 2008: Accrochage, Gallery Fifty One, Antwerp, Belgium[11]
  • 2009: Masters of Photography, Gallery Fifty One, Antwerp, Belgium[12]
  • 2015: The Pistil's Waltz, Gallery Fifty One, Antwerp, Belgium[13]


Keita's work is held in the following permanent collection:

Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]