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.

Publications by Keïta[edit]



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


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

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]