Photographer Brought Malian Images to the World

Photographer Brought Malian Images to the World


Pioneering Malian photographer Malick Sidibe, whose powerful black-and-white images of local life won him international acclaim and top awards, died at the age of 80 in April 2016.

Sidibe’s vibrant images of life in the capital, Bamako, in the 1960s, after Mali gained independence from France, were a social commentary chronicling popular culture and traditional society.

In 2007, he was the first African and the first photographer to be awarded the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival.

“It’s a great loss for Mali. He was part of our cultural heritage,” said Mali’s Culture Minister N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo. “The whole of Mali is in mourning.”

Sidibe’s works adorn the walls of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Getty Museum and several more across the world. He was considered, along with Seydou Keita, one of the finest portrait photographers of the 20th century.

He captured candid images in his studio and on the streets of Bamako, including at nightclubs, beaches and sporting events.

Sidibe said in a 2010 interview that whole worlds were captured in people’s faces. “When I capture it, I see the future of the world.”