Portrait of a Continent: Keïta Retrospective - LensCulture
Review of the exhibition at The Grand Palais, Paris — by Elizabeth Temkin

“He who has not had his photo taken with Seydou Keïta has not had his photo taken!” This is what they would say in Bamako...

Untitled, 1959-60 © Seydou Keita

In 1935, a 14-year old Malian boy named Seydou Keïta received a gift from his uncle that would change the course of his life: a Kodak Brownie flash camera. At the time, Keïta was young and uneducated, working as a carpenter’s apprentice under his father. But something in him was immediately drawn to the camera. In the years that followed, he taught himself the ins and outs of photography, opening a photography studio in his hometown, Bamako.

Throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, Keïta took thousands of portraits of young Malians and even other Africans from across the continent. He would eventually go on to become one of the most prolific portraiture photographers of the 21st century.

In this comprehensive exhibition, the Grand Palais is showcasing nearly 300 works of the late Keïta. The large black-and-white prints are [...]

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