Sean Kelly Gallery is delighted to announce an exhibition of portraits by internationally renowned African photographer Seydou Keïta who recently joined the gallery. This is Keïta's first major monographic exhibition since 1996.
Keïta's exhibition is comprised of works produced in the 1950s and 1960s that have never before been exhibited. Although formally posed, the studio portraits are not contrived or pretentious. Keïta often used bedspreads and other readily available material as backdrops for his portraits. He also offered a variety of costumes, accessories and props for his clients to use. Many sitters arrived in their Sunday best, some in traditional tribal costume, others adopted the attire of the western businessmen, while most combined both indigenous and western elements. The photographs capture not only how the sitters appeared, but how they saw themselves, and how they wanted to be seen by others.
Seydou Keïta, without question one of the seminal artists of the African continent, was born 1923 in Bamako, Mali. A self-trained photographer, he always preferred the direct control that black and white studio portraits afforded. From 1949 to 1964, Keïta was a studio photographer with a remarkable reputation who meticulously created and preserved thousands of exceptional photographs. He offered costumes and props for his sitters, although many arrived already dressed in their finest attire. While both a historical and sociological record of life in Bamako, the photographs capture with immediacy and intimacy the beauty and humanity of the individual.
Now internationally recognized as a master of the photographic portrait, Keïta has exhibited widely in museums and galleries worldwide including solo exhibitions at National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Centre Nationale de la Photographie, Paris, France and Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, France. Recent group exhibitions have included: Roteiros, Roteiros, Roteiros, Roteiros, Roteiros, XXIV Bienal de São Paolo, São Paolo, Brazil; Trade Routes: History and Geography: 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa; In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Big City Artists from Africa, Serpentine Gallery, London
The gallery is pleased to announce that The Studio Museum in Harlem will organize a major retrospective of Keïta's work in the fall of 2003, which will subsequently embark on a substantial North American tour.
Jean Marc Patrat-Delon/N.O.M.A.D.E., Paris who is Seydou Keïta's worldwide agent, has set up a foundation, based in Bamako, Mali for the preservation, promotion and study of Keita's work. Sean Kelly Gallery is delighted to be involved with the foundation and looks forward to working on their behalf to represent the extraordinary body of work Seydou Keïta has produced.