Malick Sidibe’s exuberant photographs offer a unique look at a time of political transition and cultural liberation. As Mali gained independence from France in 1960, the youth culture of music, dancing and fashion exploded in this once-conservative West African nation and Sidibe’s ubiquitous lens chronicled it all. Through th euse of props, posing, and a deft attention to personality, he developed a distinct style, fulfilling his clients’ aspirational self-presentation and achieving international recognition for these beautiful and nuanced studies of human character.
The DePaul Art Museum will feature portraits by the internationally celebrated photographer Malick Sidibé, who has documented life in Bamako, Mali, for half a century, as part of “Studio Malick,” an exhibition that opens March 29. Free and open to the public, the exhibition runs through June 3.
Studio Malick features lively black-and-white photographs by Sidibé, a Malian photographer noted for his carefully posed portraits and images of the exuberant nightlife in Bamako in the 1960s. Sidibé’s photos capture a unique moment in a time of political transition and cultural liberation as a youth culture of music, dancing and fashion exploded in the once-conservative West African nation of Mali as it gained independence from France.
“Sidibé’s photos are simultaneously intimate and evocative of an extraordinary time and place,” said Louise Lincoln, director of the DePaul Art Museum. “His use of props and the way he posed his subjects present them as they wished to be seen, and at the same time his perception of character makes each image distinctive.”
In recent years, Sidibé has been celebrated internationally for the strength and insight of his photographs, and his work has moved from being family keepsakes in middle-class Bamako homes to adorning the walls of museums throughout the world.
With a diversity of photographic objects—original proofs and recent enlargements of studio portraits, along with the vintage prints displayed in hand-painted frames—this exhibition explores both the art and commerce of Studio Malick.
The Studio Malick and Andy Warhol exhibits are the second offerings at the DePaul Art Museum’s new $7.8 million home, which opened in September 2011.