Malick Sidibé

Malick Sidibé

Born in 1935 in Soloba, Mali
Died in April 14th, 2016 in Bamako, Mali, where he lived and worked

Malick Sidibé was born in a Peul family in a small village of Mali. He was noticed for his talent as a draftsman and was admitted to the School of Sudanese Craftsmen in Bamako from which he graduated in I955. He decorated the “Photo Service” store of Gerard Guillat, also known as “Gégé la Pellicule”, who offered him a job as his apprentice. That’s how he got started in photography in 1956. Two years later, he opened the “Studio Malick” in the centre of Bamako in Bagadadji, on 30th Street, Corner I9. The wildness of the 1950’s and the upcoming of Independence gave birth to a new generation of photographers who were totally involved in the cultural and social life that they recorded. Malick Sidibé, a pivotal character in this scene, was highly appreciated by young people and was invited to all the parties the youth organized in clubs, where they learned the new dances coming from Europe and Cuba, and dressed elegantly in Western clothes.

In I957 he was the only reporter in Bamako who covered all the events, festivities and surprise-parties. On Saturdays, these parties lasted until dawn and continued on Sunday on the banks of the river Niger. This on-the-spot coverage provided simple pictures, full of truth and complicity. Spontaneity emerges from his photos: he captured the playful partying, full of laughter and life. He quit this activity in 1978, but continued his studio photography. His work has now gained an international recognition thanks to dozens of exhibition worldwide, the last one being the great retrospective “Mali Twist” in 2017 at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain curated by André Magnin and Brigitte Ollier. He has also received numerous awards, among which the Gold Lion of the 52e Biennal di Venezia, he was the first African Artist to receive such a tribute.