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Leica Gallery Madrid : Malick Sidibé : La joie de vivre


Malian photographer Malick Sidibé (1936-2016) was known as ‘the Eye of Bamako’ for his depictions of the exuberant scene that unfolded in the city following Mali’s independence from France in 1960.

Born in the village of Solaba, Sidibé studied at the École des Artisans Soudanais in Bamako (now the Institut National des Arts) from 1952 and then apprenticed with the French photographer Gérard Guillat-Guignard’s for three years. He began to take pictures of Bamako nightlife and opened his own studio in the city in 1962.

Taken in the 1960s and 70s, the exhibited works include images of dance halls and nightclubs and portraits shot in his studio. Among the display are two original chemises: coloured sheets of construction paper with photos taken at parties that would be displayed in his studio window for the event’s attendees to purchase the next day.

Sidibé’s photographs captured a social and cultural revolution as it erupted in Mali’s capital. A spirit of liberty and optimism infused the city’s youth, giving way to a nightlife of dances and social gatherings, while access to international trade brought jazz, swing, rock ‘n’ roll and Cuban sounds to Bamako’s music scene. Sidibé’s camera witnessed the dawn of this new era, charting the role of music, dance and fashion.

Sidibé’s lens not only documented and immortalised the energy and essence of a society in transition but was also instrumental in the formation and assertion of an exciting new youth culture in his recently free nation. This exhibition, curated by María Millán, is part of LOEWE and the LOEWE FOUNDATION’s ongoing exploration of photography as a tool for capturing social change and revindicating freedom of expression.


Malick Sidibé, La joie de vivre at LEICA GALLERY
Monday – Saturday 10am to 8 pm
June 1st to September 23rd 2023
C/Ortega y Gasset, 34
Madrid, Spain


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