Photographer Seydou Keïta at the "Grand Palais"

Seydou Keïta, le Grand Palais
Jun 15 2016

Photographer Seydou Keïta at the “Grand Palais”

Photographer Seydou Keïta at the “Grand Palais”

The photography exhibition showcasing Seydou Keïta ’s work is currently running at the Grand Palais. The photography exhibition opened its doors from March 21st and will end on July 11th 2016. This is a collection from Jean Pigozzi photograph collection, which is the largest collection of contemporary African art. The collection that includes 12000 works was created by Jean Pigozzi and André Magnin in 1989.

The Grand Palais photography exhibition offers art lovers and photography enthusiasts a chance to witness Art in its best form. Visitors of the gallery will be able to see Seydou Keïta ’s subjects come to light during the exhibition. Not only was Seydou Keïta a carpenter and photographer, he blended his skills and made a business out of it. His foresight, creativity and enterprising nature enabled him to relate well with his subjects. This can be noticed from the faces of his adoring subjects, who not only posed for photographs but paid for the services as well.

He rented costumes, jewelry, cars and flowers to his photography customers, which are lessons worthy of emulating for modern avid photographers. Seydou Keïta stands out as a magnificent artist whose works will continue inspiring future generations. His work is indeed an exceptional testimony of Malian society of his time.



Who was Seydou Keïta?

Seydou Keïta is a Malian photographer known for sharing his finesse with the world in the first half of the twentieth century. His portraits are mostly of people and families that aptly record the Malian society of his time. His work has been widely acknowledged as vintage pieces of art. His mastery of framing and light combined with invention makes his subjects to stand shoulders above the work of other photographers of his generation.

Born in 1920 in Bamako, Mali, Seydou Keïta came from a humble background. As the oldest son in a family of five children, Seydou Keïta had to work alongside his father, Bâ Tièkòró, who was a furniture maker. Keïta is a self-made photographer who developed a deep passion for photography after one of his uncles gave him a Kodak Brownie 6×9 camera in 1935. Though the film had eight shots, it was the best gift Seydou Keïta ever had and that was soon going to bring him global recognition.

Seydou Keïta, Le Grand Palais

Seydou Keïta, Le Grand Palais

How Seydou Keïta transformed his photos into Art?

Working as a carpenter and photographer, Seydou Keïta’s initial work consisted of his family and close friends. With time, he started taking photos of his neighbors as well. He got an opportunity to hone his skills under Pierre Garnier, who owned a photographic supply store. Later, his dreams to own a studio came true in 1948 when he set up shop in his family’s house behind the main prison in Bamako-Koura. Unlike modern photographers, Seydou Keïta had to juggle his carpentry work with photography as he learned his trade.

Seydou Keïta gradually developed a distinct style that enriched and transformed his photos into art. He enhanced his subjects’ appearances by providing accessories, costumes and the furniture he had made in his father’s workshop. He also encouraged his subjects to pose on motorbikes, hold flowers and wear suits and bow ties that gave his photographs a touch of modernity. It is no wonder that his black and white portraits of men, women and children stand out in their beauty and elegance.

Seydou Keïta retired in 1977 and passed on in 2001 in Paris.


If you’re on your way to visit Paris, don’t miss this exceptional exhibition at Le Grand Palais.

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