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Malick Sidibé gained recognition for capturing the Malian rock ‘n’ roll scene in the 1960s, becoming a proto “party photographer” of sorts. Born on a peasant farm outside of Bamako, he grew up as a shepherd until he was chosen to attend the white school in the city. There he became interested in art and eventually selected by Gérard Guillat-Guignard‘s Photo Service Boutique to be his an apprentice.
An exhibition of Sidibé at Jack Shainman Gallery (on view through April 26) features vintage prints from the 1960s through the 1980s, including never before seen prints newly created from early negatives. The show will also incorporate color Polaroids. The photographs document a euphoric moment in Malian history. After having achieved independence from France in 1960s, Malians embraced Pan-African nationalism along with Western music and fashion. Bamakois became a cultural capital for Malian youth who sought to emulate James Brown.
They catch Malians dancing insouciantly and posing with their favorite records. Sidibé opened his studio in 1962 and often posted pictures outside of his studio for locals to see. In the 1970s he began taking studio portraits, developing his signature black-and-white style, posing his subjects in front of African patterned fabrics. Often the subjects from this series are family members. These images are stunning in their composition and use of contrasting fabrics.
“Malick Sidibe” will be on view at the Jack Shainman Gallery through April 26.