Untitled, #59

Seydou Keïta (1921–2001) Untitled, #59, 1956-1957 Gelatin silver print Image: 22 × 15 1/2 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of Anne Ehrenkranz 2008.2

In 1948 Seydou Keïta founded his photography studio in the emerging neighborhood of Bamako-Coura in Mali. In images rendered with intense clarity and crisp attention to form, he focused on the forging of social identities and the importance of self-fashioning. Using patterned textile backdrops to create a formal setting for his studio portraits, Keïta often took photographs from a low angle, making the sitters appear larger. Here, the weight of the young woman’s presence is further emphasized by her deliberate and assured pose.