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The perfect portraits of Seydou Keïta

Hoy viajamos hasta Bamako, la capital de Mali para conocer más de cerca a Seydou Keïta, nacido en esta ciudad en 1921, cuando todavía era la capital del Sudán Francés. Keïta era un niño que, como la mayoría en ese momento, no fue a la escuela y con tan solo siete años comenzó a aprender el oficio de carpintero junto a su padre. Pero algo sucedió en su vida que cambió su destino radicalmente. En 1935, con tan solo 14 años, recibió un regalo muy especial de parte de su tío: una cámara Kodak Brownie.

A partir de ese momento, y sin ayuda de nadie, Keïta aprendió a manejar la cámara a la perfección. Tanto, que solo cuatro años después ya vivía de la fotografía y en 1948 abría su estudio fotográfico en un terreno de la familia.

Por él pasaron personas venidas de todos los rincones de África para que le retratara junto al variado attrezzo del que disponía y que buscaba occidentalizar las instantáneas: gafas, trajes europeos, e incluso una motocicleta que había adquirido para saciar su otra pasión, la mecánica, un hobby al que acabó dedicándose a tiempo completo cuando decidió jubilarse.

Ahora y hasta el 11 de julio el Gran Palais de París, ciudad que lo vio morir, acoge una exposición que, a través de cerca de 300 fotografías, recorre la obra del que ya ha sido bautizado como el “padre de a fotografía africana”. Además, el museo a recopilado una serie de grabaciones del fotógrafo que nos permiten disfrutar más de cerca su trabajo. Todas ellas pueden verse en la exposición pero también están reunidas en esta lista de reproducción del Gran Palais. Aquí te compartimos una en la que  Brigitte Cornand pide al fotógrafo que organice una sesión de fotos al aire libre para poder filmar un documental que está realizando sobre él.

Today we travel to Bamako, the capital of Mali to learn more about Seydou Keïta, born in this city in 1921, when it was still the capital of French Sudan. Keïta was a kid, like most at the time, did not go to school and only seven years old began to learn the trade of a carpenter with his father. But something happened in his life that radically changed his destiny. In 1935, when he was only 14 years old, he received a very special gift from his uncle: a Kodak Brownie camera.

From that moment on, without help from anyone, Keïta learned to handle the camera perfectly. Thus, only four years later and he already lived from photography and in 1948 he finally opened his photo studio in a family plot.

For the photographed people coming from all corners of Africa portrayed by the varied equipment which is sought to westernize snapshots: glasses, European clothes, and even a motorcycle he had acquired to satisfy his other passion, mechanics, a hobby that he ended up devoting himself full time when he decided to retire.

Now through July 11 the Gran Palais, in Paris, which saw him die, is hosting an exhibition that, through nearly 300 photographs, covers the work, which has already been named the “father of African Photography”. In addition, the museum compiled a series of recordings from this photographer that allow us to enjoy more closely his work. All of them can be seen in the exhibition but are also gathered in this playlist of the Grand Palais. Here we share one in which Brigitte Cornand asks the photographer to arrange a photo shoot outdoors to film a documentary being made about him.

Today we travel to Bamako, the capital of Mali to learn more about Seydou Keïta, born in this city in 1921, when it was still the capital of French Sudan. Keïta was a kid, like most at the time, did not go to school and only seven years old began to learn the trade of a carpenter with his father. But something happened in his life that radically changed his destiny. In 1935, when he was only 14 years old, he received a very special gift from his uncle: a Kodak Brownie camera.

From that moment on, without help from anyone, Keïta learned to handle the camera perfectly. Thus, only four years later and he already lived from photography and in 1948 he finally opened his photo studio in a family plot.

For the photographed people coming from all corners of Africa portrayed by the varied equipment which is sought to westernize snapshots: glasses, European clothes, and even a motorcycle he had acquired to satisfy his other passion, mechanics, a hobby that he ended up devoting himself full time when he decided to retire.

Now through July 11 the Gran Palais, in Paris, which saw him die, is hosting an exhibition that, through nearly 300 photographs, covers the work, which has already been named the “father of African Photography”. In addition, the museum compiled a series of recordings from this photographer that allow us to enjoy more closely his work. All of them can be seen in the exhibition but are also gathered in this playlist of the Grand Palais. Here we share one in which Brigitte Cornand asks the photographer to arrange a photo shoot outdoors to film a documentary being made about him.

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