Sidibé was born around 1935, in a small village in
Mali. Because of his talent for drawing, he was encouraged
by his school tutors to enlist in the school of Sudanese Craftsmen
in Bamako where he studied jewellery and graduated in 1955.
This is where he met Gerard Guillat, who was looking for a
student to decorate his "Photo Service" shop and
studio. He chose Malick for the job and when it was finished
he asked him to stay as his apprentice.
bought his first camera in 1956, and in 1958 he opened his
own studio in Bagadadji, in the heart of Bamako, where he
still works today. Like Seydou Keïta before him, Malick
Sidibé started with studio portraits. But unlike his
predecessor he soon became a street photographer and the only
young reporter in Bamako at that time.
the 60’s and 70’s Malick worked mainly with the
burgeoning club scene of the young folk of Bamako. Clubs with
glamorous names like "Les Cyclones", "Les Monkees"
or "Les Chats Sauvages" were constantly sprouting
up and were all the rage. Surprise parties in the evenings,
river Niger on hot Sundays, football championships, boxing
matches, and all sorts of events that Malick illustrated with
moving photographs, lively snapshots, and leisure poses. Malick’s
photography studio itself became a hip hangout for Bamako’s
youth. Being a real inside-scenester, Malick was entrusted
by his clients to photograph them at all times.
Sidibé’s pictures reflect the convivial and carefree
atmosphere of a post-colonial African capital. But beyond
that they are simple, spontaneous, yet extremely beautiful
images, illustrating moments of truth and complicity. They
reveal Malick Sidibé’s love of people and his
passion for photography and allow us to witness another face
of Africa. Recent exhibitions of Malick Sidibé’s
work include the Deitch Projects, New York and the Museum
of Contemporary Art, Chicago both in 1999. A vintage show
at the Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, as well as the "You
look beautiful like that" show at the Hammer Museum,
UCLA, Los Angeles and at the Fogg Museum, Harvard University;
all in 2002.
was a major retrospective of his work at the National Portrait
Gallery, London, alongside fellow Mali photographer
in 2003. This was also the year that Malick was awarded the
prestigious Hasselblad Prize. Since then he has continued
to be exhibited and added to public and private collections
worldwide, and in 2007 became the first photographer to be
awarded the Lion d'Or for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice
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2009 Hackelbury Fine Art, Ltd. Copyright for all images is
held by the respective artist or estate and they may not be
reproduced in any form without express permission. All rights