Malick Sidibé was a photographer known for his black-and-white images chronicling the exuberant lives and culture, often of youth, in his native Bamako, Mali in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Sidibé’s work documents a transitional moment as Mali gained its independence and transformed from a French colony steeped in tradition to a more modern independent country looking toward the West. He captured candid images in the streets, nightclubs, and sporting events and ran a formal portrait studio.
In a 2010 interview with John Henley in The Guardian Sidibé explained, “To be a good photographer you need to have a talent to observe, and to know what you want. You have to choose the shapes and the movements that please you, that look beautiful. Equally, you need to be friendly, sympathique. It's very important to be able to put people at their ease. It's a world, someone's face. When I capture it, I see the future of the world. I believe with my heart and soul in the power of the image, but you also have to be sociable. I'm lucky. It's in my nature."
Sidibé was born in Mali in 1936, where he was based. His work has been exhibited extensively. In 2012 the DePaul University Art Museum, Chicago, organized an exhibition titled Studio Malick in collaboration with Gwinzegal/diChroma Photography that traveled to Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, Florida, and to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College in Spring 2014. In 2008, a solo exhibition was organized by Fotografiemuseum (FOAM), Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It traveled to Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur Saône. Both solo exhibitions were accompanied by catalogues. In 2008 his work was also shown at the University Art Gallery at the University of San Diego, California,
Sidibé has work in numerous public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Getty Museum, California, the Brooklyn Museum, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. He was awarded the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement (2008), the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Award by the Board of La Biennale di Venezia (2007) when he was included in Think with the Senses Feel with the Mind, curated by Robert Storr at the 52nd Annual Venice Biennale, and the Hasselblad Award (2003).
Jack Shainman Gallery has represented Sidibé since 2002. His most recent solo exhibition was in 2016.