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Keïta, Seydou

Biography

Malian, 1921–2001

Details

In 1948, Seydou Keïta opened a commercial photography studio in Bamako, Mali. His formal portraiture style and masterful compositions, which emphasized the visual interplay between the subject’s clothing and a selection of densely patterned textile backdrops, shaped the new image of postcolonial Africa. Keïta depicted a panorama of mid-twentieth-century Bamako during a time of intense social transition—reflecting the influence of cinema, the merging of traditional and contemporary fashions, and a burgeoning consumer culture. In highly-conscious poses—and frequently pictured with elaborate textiles, jewelry, radios, and cars—Keïta’s subjects expressed the emerging myth of the modern African citizen. To be photographed by him was to be made "Bamakois," to be seen as beautiful and cosmopolitan.

Artworks by Keïta, Seydou

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