Senegalese Woman, artist unknown (ca 1910)

The Parallel Universe of African Portrait Photography

Proving that early photography was not the exclusive reserve of the West, a new show at the Met displays 100 years (1870s - 1970s) of portrait photography made by and for Africans — particularly West Africa, countries like Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, and Nigeria.

These 80 works, many of which are being shown for the first time, were taken both inside and outside of the studio, by amateurs and professionals alike, including Seydou Keïta, Samuel Fosso, and J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, as well as lesser-known artists. Together they explored the unique African potential of the medium that swept the continent as soon as it arrived in the 1840s and 50s. Present in almost all of the work is a certain self-possessed dignity of the sitter, in spite of, or perhaps in response to, the ravages of colonialism.

Photographic Portraits from West Africa, August 31, 2015 – January 3, 2016, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC


Samuel Fosso, self-portrait


Samuel Fosso, self-portrait


Samuel Fosso, self-portrait


Samuel Fosso, self-portrait


Samuel Fosso, self-portrait


J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere


J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere


J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere


J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere


Seydou Keïta


Seydou Keïta


Seydou Keïta


Seydou Keïta


Alex Agbaglo Acolatse


Lisk-Carew Brothers


Lisk-Carew Brothers


Lisk-Carew Brothers


Malick Sidibé


Malick Sidibé


Malick Sidibé





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Aug 24, 2015 22:39:00

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