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Seydou Keïta (photographer)

Seydou Keïta (photographer)

Malian photographer
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Malian photographer
Countries Mali
Occupations Photographer
A.K.A. Seydou Keita
Gender male
Birth January 1, 1921 (Bamako, Mali)
Death November 22, 2001 (Paris, Île-de-France, France)
The details

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.

Keïta died in 2001 in Paris.

Publications by Keïta

  • Seydou Keita: Photographs, Bamako, Mali 1948-1963. Göttingen: Steidl, 2011. ISBN 978-3869303017.



  • 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
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