UNKNOWN ARTIST (SENEGAL) PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN, CA. 1910 GLASS NEGATIVE 6 X 4 IN (16.5 X 11.4 CM) GIFT OF SUSAN MULLIN VOGEL, 2015
In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, documents 100 years worth of images from West Africa.
The exhibition features the work work of 80 artists, and spans from the 1870’s to the 1970’s. Many of the works, which come from the museum’s archives, have never been shown before.
The exhibition seeks to expand our understanding of West African portrait photographs, by rendering the broad variety of these practices and aesthetics. It juxtaposes photographs, postcards, real photo postcards, and original negatives taken both inside and outside the studio by amateur and professional photographers active from Senegal to Cameroon, and from Mali to Gabon. Among them are renowned artists, such as Seydou Keïta, J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, and Samuel Fosso, and lesser-known practitioners who worked at the beginning of the century, including George A. G. Lutterodt, the Lisk-Carew Brothers, and Alex A. Acolatse. These photographers explored the possibilities of their medium, developing a rich aesthetic vocabulary through revealing self-portraits, staged images against painted backdrops or open landscapes, and casual snapshots of leisurely times. Regardless of their unique place in the history of photography in West Africa—from the formality of the earlier studio poses to the theatricality of Fosso’s fantasies—the sitter’s self-assured and unabashed presence fully engages the viewer.
SEYDOU KEIÌTA (MALIAN, 1921/23 Â 2001) RECLINING WOMAN, 1950S-1960S GELATIN SILVER PRINT, 1975 5 X 7 IN (13 X 19 CM) GIFT OF SUSAN MULLIN VOGEL, 2015 Â©KEIÌTA/SKPEAC
OUMAR KA (SENEGALESE, B. 1930) MAN STANDING IN A COURTYARD, 1959-1968 INKJET PRINT, 2015 VISUAL RESOURCE ARCHIVE, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARTS OF AFRICA, OCEANIA, AND THE AMERICAS
J.D. OKHAI OJEIKERE (NIGERIAN 1930-2014), UNTITLED, (MODERN SUKU), GELATIN SILVER PRINT 2009
UNKNOWN ARTIST [POSSIBLY ALPHONSO LISK-CAREW, SIERRA LEONEAN, 1887-1969] BUNDOO GIRLS Â SIERRA LEONE, CA. 1905-1925 PHOTOMECHANICAL REPRODUCTION PUBLISHED BY LISK-CAREW BROTHERS 5 X 3 IN (13.3 X 8.3 CM) VISUAL RESOURCE ARCHIVES, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARTS OF AFRICA, OCEANIA, AND THE AMERICAS
UNKNOWN ARTIST (SENEGAL) SENEGALESE WOMAN, 1910S POSTCARD FORMAT GELATIN SILVER PRINT 5 X 3 IN (14 X 8.9 CM) VISUAL RESOURCE ARCHIVE, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARTS OF AFRICA, OCEANIA, AND THE AMERICAS
UNKNOWN ARTIST (SENEGAL) TWO GIRLS, INDOORS, CA. 1915 GELATIN SILVER PRINT FROM GLASS NEGATIVE, 2015 2 X 3 IN (5.7 X 7.6 CM) VISUAL RESOURCE ARCHIVE, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARTS OF AFRICA, OCEANIA, AND THE AMERICAS
In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from now until January 3, 2016.