Account infoAddressPrivacy and Preferences
Michelle Lamunière
Michelle Lamunière was John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Assistant Curator of Photography at the Harvard Art Museums.
Lamunière, Michelle
Lamunière, Michelle
Subscribed to the newsletter
Send me site notifications emails
You Look Beautiful Like That: The Portrait Photographs of Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé
Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé, two important and widely known commercial photographers from Mali, took mesmerizing photographs of members of their communities during the decades before and after the country’s independence from France in 1960. This book presents a range of these portraits, as well as excerpts of recent interviews with the artists and an essay placing the photographers within the context of the history of portrait photography in West Africa since its beginnings in the 1840s.

In contrast to the early photographs of Africans produced by Western colonial powers, Keïta and Sidibé’s photographs represent the work of Africans controlling the camera to create images of African subjects for an African audience. Keïta combined formulas of Western portrait photography with local aesthetics to create images that reflect both his clients’ social identity and status within the community and an enthusiastic embrace of modernity. Later, as portrait conventions and societal roles became more flexible, Sidibé’s subjects took a more active part in constructing the images of themselves that they wanted to convey.

Africans have valued photography for its unique ability to capture a person’s likeness, which, says Sidibé, was regarded as more eternal than the subjects themselves. This book is a striking collection of such likenesses.
Print publication date August 2001 (in print)
Print ISBN 9780300091885
EISBN 9780300243918
Illustrations 87
Print Status in print