Contemporary African Art Collection by Jean Pigozzi

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Seydou Keïta



Born c. 1921, Bamako, Mali
Died 2001, Paris, France

Seydou Keïta’s photographs eloquently portray Bamako society during its era of transition from a cosmopolitan French colony to an independent capital. Initially trained by his father to be a carpenter, Keïta’s career as a photographer was launched in 1935 by an uncle who gave him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie Flash, which he had purchased during a trip to Senegal. During his adolescence Keïta mastered the technical challenges of shooting and printing; he later purchased a large-format camera. The larger format not only offered an exceptional degree of resolution, it also made it possible for Keïta to make high quality contact prints without the aid of an enlarger. In 1948 he opened his own studio in Bamako and he quickly built up a successful business. Whether photographing single individuals, families, or professional associations, Keïta balanced a strict sense of formality with a remarkable level of intimacy with his subjects. Like many professional photographers, he furnished his studio with numerous props, from backdrops and costumes, to Vespas and luxury cars. He would renew these props every few years, which later allowed him to establish a chronology for his work. Keïta commented on his studio practice, “It’s easy to take a photo, but what really made a difference was that I always knew how to find the right position, and I was never wrong. Their head slightly turned, a serious face, the position of the hands . . . I was capable of making someone look really good.”

Keïta went to exceptional lengths to bring out the beauty of his subjects and the brilliant patterns of his backdrops proved a particularly effective foil. He worked intuitively, reinventing portrait photography through his search for extreme precision. In 1962 the newly installed Socialist government made Keïta its official photographer; shortly thereafter he closed down his studio, although he remained active until his retirement in 1977. His archive of over 10,000 negatives was gradually brought to light in the early 1990s; Keïta has since achieved international recognition. Inventive and highly modern, his emphasis on the essential components of portrait photography—light, subject, framing—firmly establishes Keïta among the twentieth-century masters of the genre.

*One of Seydou Keïta's work is on permanent display at the MOMA, New York, USA

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2013
Seydou Keïta : From Jean Pigozzi's Collection, Moscow House of Photography

2008 - 2009
Seydou Keïta
Tate Modern, Level 5
April 2008 - April 2009
London, UK

2001
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna
Rome, Italie.

2001
05/03 – 08/06
You look beautiful like that
Fogg Art Museum
Cambridge, U.S.A.

2001
FLASH AFRIQUE
Kunsthalle Wien
Vienna, Austria.
Düsseldorf Cultural Forum, Germany.

2001
You look beautiful like that
Fogg Art Museum
Cambridge, U.S.A.
UCLA HAMMER Museum.
Los Angeles, USA.

1999
PhotoEspana 99
Madrid - Spain.

1998-1999
Seydou Keita
Saint Louis Museum of Art
Saint Louis, Missouri - U.S.A.

1997
Seydou Keita
Gagosian Gallery
New York - U.S.A.

1997
Seydou Keita
Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco - U.S.A.

1996
Seydou Keita
Minneapolis Institut of Art Minneapolis - U.S.A.

1996
National Museum for African Art
Smithsonian Institut, Washington D.C.
United-States.

1995
Self Evident
The Ikon Gallery
Birmingham - Great-Britain.

1995
Seydou Keita
Fruit Market Gallery
Edinburgh, Great-Britain.

1994
Seydou Keita
Ginza art's space - Shiseido
Tokyo, Japan.

1994
Seydou Keita
Cartier, The Contemporary Art Fondation.
Paris, France.

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2013
WHITE : Photography, Art, Design, Fashion, Film, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterda

Seydou Keïta, Photographs from the Jean Pigozzi Collection, Moscow House of Photography, Moscow, Russia

2013
Malian Portrait Photography
Samuel Dorsky Museum of ArtNew Paltz, NY USA
The Dorsky
Alice and Horace Chandler Gallery and North Gallery

2013
Keïta, Ojeikere, Sidibé, 11 Columbia, Monaco

2013
Bamako Photo in Paris, Pavillon carré de Baudouin, Paris, France

2013
Focus sur la collection, Musée de la Fondation Zinsou, Ouidah, Bénin

2012
Jan 29 - May 6
Six Yards Guaranteed Dutch Design, Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Netherlands

2012
Who, What, Wear. Selections from the Permanent Collection - Studio Museum Harlem - New York, USA

2012
Africa/Africa, Centre d’art contemporain, Meymac, France

2011
10 - 13 novembre
Paris Photo, Grand Palais
Artur Walther Collection

2011
África: Objetos y Sujetos, Teatro Fernán Gómez. Centro de Arte, Madrid, Spain

2011
Art Paris, Just Art! Grand Palais, Paris, France

2010
Contemporary African Photography from the Walther Collection
Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity
Neu-Ulm, Germany

2010
Oct 8 - Oct 25 2010
African Stories
Marrakech Art Fair, Marrakech


2007
Oct 06 – Feb 03 2008
Why Africa?
Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli
Turin, Italy

2006
12 Oct- 18 fév. 2007
100% Africa
Guggenheim Museum
Bilbao, Spain

2006
29 May – 31 July
Vive l’Afrique
Galérie du Jour – Agnès b.
Tokyo - Japon

2006
March
About Africa, part one
Fifty One Fine Art Photography
Antwerp, Belgium

2005
Arts of Africa
Grimaldi Forum
Monaco - France

2005
African Art Now : Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Museum of Fine Art Houston
Houston - USA
2005 (travelling exhibition)
A hundred years of children

* The Bunkamura Museum of Art
Tokyo – Japan
* Granship
Shizuoka – Japan
* The Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum
Niigata - Japan

2004
Fifty One celebrates four years
Fifty One Fine Art Photography
Antwerp - Belgium

2004
Je m’installe aux abattoirs
La collection d’art contemporain d’agnès b.
Les Abattoirs
Toulouse, France

2003 –2004
Go Johnny Go !
Kunsthallewien
Vienna - Austria

2003 – 2004 (travelling exhibition)
Village Global : Années 60

* 2nd October 2003 – 18th January 2004
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal
Montreal – Canada
* 19th February 2004 – 23rd May 2004
Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas – USA

2003
Les ateliers des désirs
Centre Culturel Français Freiburg
Freiburg - Germany

2002 – 2003 (travelling exhibition)
Alter Ego

* 20th June – 31 October 2002
Mundaneum Museum
Mons – Belgium
* 17 January – 23rd March 2003
Hotel de Sully
Paris – France

2001 - 2003
You look beautiful like that : The Portrait of Photographs
of Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé

* Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown
Massachusetts, MA, USA.
* National Portrait Gallery
London, Great Britain.
* Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach
FL, USA.
* UCLA Hammer Museum, University of California
Los Angeles, CA, USA.
* Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums
Cambridge, MA, USA.

2001
The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa,

2000
The Museum of Contemporary Photography
Chicago, U.S.A.

2000
LE MONDE DANS LA TETE
Paris Museum of Modern Art . France.

1998
KUNSTWELTEN IM DIALOG
Ludwig Museum.
Cologne, Germany.

1998
Sao Paulo Biennal.
Sao Paulo, Brazil.

1998
Moscou 2nd Biennal for photography
Moscow, Russia.

1996
AFRICAN PHOTOGRAPHERS
Guggenheim Museum.
New York- U.S.A.

1995
Serpentine Gallery.
London, Great-Britain.

1995
MULTIPLE EXPOSURE - THE GROUP PORTRAIT IN PHOTOGRAPHY
- The Bruce Museum
Greenwich - Connecticut - U.S.A.
- Bayly Art Museum Charlottesville - Virginia - U.S.A.
- Oakville Galleries Oakville - Ontario - Canada.

1994
Premières Rencontres Photographiques de Bamako -
Bamako - Mali.

1945-1994.
Museum Villa Stuck. München, Allemagne.
Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, NYC.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

2014
Kirkham, Pat and Weber Susan, History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400-2000, New York: Bard Graduate Center, Yale University Press, 2014 pg 548.

2014
Durden, Mark, Photography Today, London: Phaidon Press, Ltd., 2014, pg 89.


2014
Thomas, Nicholas, Body Art,London : Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2014, pg 135.

2014
Bindman, David and Gates, Jr., Henry Louis, Dalton, Karen, The Image of the Black in Western Art - The Twentieth Century: The Rise of Black Artists, London : Belknap Harvard, 2014, pg 248.

2014
Apostrophe, Français 5é, Hachette Livre International, pg 26.

2014
Mémoires Vives, 30 an Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Exhibition catalogue, Fondation Cartier.

2014
Photography Today, Mark Durden, Phaidon Press, London, UK

2014
Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn, edited by Jill H. Casid and Aruna D'Souza, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Yale University Press, pg.65.

2014
The History of Photograpy: Volume 4, The Contemporary Era, Walter Guadagnini, Skira, Milan

2014
Body Art, Nicholas Thomas, Thames & Hudson

2014
How to Write about Contemporary Art, Gilda Williams, Thames & Hudson

2014
Travel & See: Black Diaspora Art Practices since the 1980s, Kobena Mercer, Duke University Press

2013
The African Diaspora: A history through Culture, Patrick Manning, Columbia Univesity Press.

2011
SEYDOU KEITA
Photographs, Bamako, Mali 1948 - 1963
Edited by Steidldangin

2010
Contemporary African Photography from the Walther Collection
Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity
Edited by Okwui Enwezor

2007
Why Africa?
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Electa & Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli.

2006
100% Africa
Exhibition catalogue. Published by TF Editores & FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.

2005
Living with Art
Seventh Edition by Mark Getlein. Published by McGraw Hill.

2005
Arts of Africa: The Contemporary Collection of Jean Pigozzi
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Skira Edition & Grimaldi Forum Monaco.

2005
African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection
Exhibition catalogue. Published by Merrell.

2003
Go Johnny Go !
Exhibition catalogue published by Steidl, Kunsthallwien

2002
Carnets de Voyage T2
By Titouan Lamazou. Gallimard Editions

2001
"I ka nyi tan"
Seydou Keita fotografi a Bamako
Castelvecchi Arte. Museo Hendrik Christian Andersen.

2001
YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL LIKE THAT
The portrait photographs of Seydou Keita - Malick Sidibé.
Michelle Lamunière. Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge. Yale University Press, New Haven and London. Text in English.

2000
FLASH AFRIQUE
Fotografie aus Westafrika
Kunsthalle Wien, Steidl.
Bilingual text: German, English.

1997
SEYDOU KEITA
Monographic Book - 287 pages, 207 reproductions.
Published by SCALO, Edited by André Magnin. Book, French or English version.

1997
The Parkett Serie with Contemporary Artists N°49
Bamako : Full Dress Parade by Robert Storr p.24-34.
Bilingual texts: English, German.

1996
MATADOR N°2
Portfolio, Spain.

1995
Self Evident. Seydou Keita
The Ikon Gallery
Birmingham, Great-Britain.

1995
SEYDOU KEITA
Photopoche,
Ed. National Center of Photography, Paris.

1994
SEYDOU KEITA - 1949 to 1962 Exhibition catalogue texts in French by André Magnin. Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris.



seydoukeitaphotographer.com :
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Seydou Keïta : Biography (eng/fr) Exhibitions

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Seydou Keïta Biography

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