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100 Years Of Portrait Photography In West Africa At The Met

A new exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC highlights 100 years of portrait photography in West Africa.

All images courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art


A century's worth of West Africa's deeply rooted photographic culture will be on full display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from August 31 through January 3.

In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa includes nearly 80 portrait photographs taken by amateurs and professionals between the 1870s and the 1970s. To showcase the broad variety of the region's photography practices and aesthetics, the exhibition will juxtapose photographs, postcards, real photo postcards and original negatives.

Visitors can expect to view the works of renowned practitioners such as Seydou Keïta of Mali, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere of Nigeria, and Samuel Fosso of Cameroon, and lesser-known artists who worked at the beginning of the century, including George A. G. Lutterodt of Ghana, the Lisk-Carew Brothers of Sierra Leone, and Alex A. Acolatse of Togo.

"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," reads a Met press release. "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."

In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC from August 31 through January 3.

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