This is the art and world of portrait photographer Seydou Keïta—alongside snapshots of his life and times through fifteen years of extraordinary transition, from the beginning of the end of French colonial power in West Africa to the birth and rise of a new nation-state, the Republic of Mali.
These are the photographs of Seydou Keïta—indelible portraits of a time, place, and people at the crossroads of change. These are the citizens of a new West Africa: forward thinking men, women, and children who treasured their African heritage, honored the traditions of their Muslim beliefs yet adopted the fashions, styles, and attitudes of a new world cinema.
This is the art and times of Seydou Keïta: a virtual newsreel commemorating the rich heritage and turbulent history of his home city of Bamako, the vibrant capital center of French West Africa. These are the epic events that shaped a generation—so vividly captured in the faces of Keïta’s portraits. These are the people who witnessed the retreat of the French and the rise of a socialist government, who watched the world change before their eyes.
Seydou Keïta lived in Bamako, Mali from 1921 to 2001. A self-taught photographer, he opened a studio in 1948 and specialized in portraiture. Keïta soon photographed all of Bamako and his portraits gained a reputation for excellence throughout West Africa. He is now is universally recognized as the father of Africa photography and one of the great photographers of the 20th Century. Get to know his life story in words and pictures.
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