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