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MALICK SIDIBÉ | ‘Bamako Nights’
May 15th 2024
Young couples enjoying a night out and a twist on the dancefloor, Malick Sidibé captured the enthusiasm of a Malian generation in the wake of the country’s independence in the early sixties. The only photographer in town - equipped with a handheld camera and flash - he roamed the nights of Bamako leaving monochrome snapshots of what optimism and the expectations of a new future looks like. ‘Bamako Nights’ shows Sidibé’s talent at the earliest of his career, unintendedly forming a documentary of the capital in a period of transition. Eyestorm’s representation of his fellow countryman, Seydou Keïta, opened a dialogue with Sidibé; one that shaped exclusive collaborations with the best of West African photographers.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
A bright flash, followed by an elongated “squeee” of a recharging camera left no-one in doubt. Malick Sidibé was in the room. Indeed, the sudden and brief flooding of light was the calling card of one of the most popular people in Bamako’s nightlife in the sixties; signalling that the party had started and whatever happened outside the viewfinder of Sidibé’s camera would drown in comparison to tomorrow’s recorded stories about last night. Often shooting three to four rolls of thirty-six while roaming the venues of the Malian capital, the young photographer was working nights and days in promoting his new studio. Before sunrise, he was back in the darkroom developing more than a hundred black-and-white photographs to be displayed in folders on the wall outside the small shop. Ready for when the city woke up; allowing the young and fashionable crowd of Bamako to proof the night’s endeavours, and to buy a copy.
MALICK SIDIBE
Untitled 4, 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.98(h) inches
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MALICK SIDIBE
Untitled 4, 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.98(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
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Malick Sidibe (Malian, 1936 - 2016)

Untitled 4 , 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.98(h) inches
Gelatin silver print

Image size: 25(w) x 37.5(h) cm.

Unsigned.
PRICE
$ 1,170.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
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Being the centre of attention in the Bamako nightlife and offering excitement and prestige to any party simply by his presence was not in the cards for Sidibé early in his life. Born in a Fulani village on the southern edges of Sahara, he was goat herding by the age of five in a family where only one child was chosen amongst several siblings to be sent to school. A privilege given to the young Malick. Always drawing, his artistic promise didn’t go unnoticed at primary school and soon enough it reached the local Mayor’s office, who suggested that Sidibé relocated to Bamako to study jewellery making. In ’55, the principal at the Maison des artisans du Soudan (now Maison des Artisans de Bamako) introduced him to the French photographer, Gerard Guillat, for whom he started by decorating the shop window, cataloguing and organising the day-to-day work in the studio. The work experience would throw Sidibé onto an entirely new journey. Guillat was looking for an apprentice and the young helper didn’t think twice; after all, working alongside Guillat had made him realise that a click of a button was significantly faster than the work of a paintbrush. Within weeks, Sidibé bought his first camera, a Brownie Flash, working daytime under the guidance of his mentor - and evenings out and about in Bamako photographing weddings, birthdays and other private events.
MALICK SIDIBE
Untitled 6, 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.98(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
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MALICK SIDIBE
Untitled 6, 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.98(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
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Malick Sidibe (Malian, 1936 - 2016)

Untitled 6 , 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.98(h) inches
Gelatin silver print

Image size: 25(w) x 37.5(h) cm.

Unsigned.
PRICE
$ 1,170.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
In the wake of the declared independence from France in the autumn of ’60, a new optimism swiped over Bamako. For Sidibé it didn’t take long to find his liberation as well and set up his own studio and camera repair shop in the centre of the city. The young photographer was not the first Malian to pick up a camera, but Sidibé was different. Across town, Seydou Keïta had established a studio a decade earlier and already highly regarded for his skilfully staged photos of the inhabitants in the capital, often dressed in traditional Malian clothes and in their finest attire. Equipped with a modern hand-held camera with a flash - a stark contrast to Keïta’s heavy flat-plate Hasselblad camera - Sidibé instead went into the nights of Bamako to seek out his subjects.

What he found was an enthusiastic youthful crowd having the time of their lives. In his photos, handsome men in Pucci-patterned open shirts are making an effort to impress gorgeous girls dressed up for the night; a guy in a suit and tie, casually holding his jacket over the shoulder, as he poses proudly next to the girlfriend; and the king of the dancefloor energetically shows off a Mali Twist. The optimism and newfound West African identity emerging in the sixties shines through these candid images that convey a familiarity. Although a snapshot of modern African life seven decades in the past, some things are simply universal. Young people with dark sunglasses and men on scooters will always try to act cool in a James Dean kind-of-way, regardless of where they live. The artist’s arc of work documents one of the most exciting eras of West Africa; a time exuding a post-colonial euphoria.

Sidibe’s legacy stretching over five decades continues to play a significant role in the West African art scene, inspiring later photographers, such as Dorris Haron Kasco and Alioune Ba, as well as the younger generations of today.

Already a legend within the community of black-and-white photography, it took almost three decades before the rest of the world was enlightened by the West African artists. The inaugural Bamako Biennale in ’94, in which Malick Sidibé played a vital role, led to his first solo show outside Mali the same year; and as lights were adjusted for the retrospective of Seydou Keïta in ’97 at Gagosian Gallery in Wooster Street, New York, the spotlight was firmly onto West Africa. The twenty years that followed, Sidibé’s work was widely exhibited in Europe and United States, and is today part of a long list of prestigious collections and museums, including The Guggenheim, MoMA and The Metropolitan, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; SFMoMA in San Francisco; and The National Portrait Gallery, London. His oeuvre was the subject of numerous books, such as ‘Mali Twist’ released by Fondation Cartier in 2017, and during his lifetime he became the most decorated African photographer, achieving the Hasselblad Foundation Award (2003), Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale (2007), and World Press Photo (2010). Sidibé’s career started and ended in his beloved Bamako as he passed away in 2016.
MALICK SIDIBE
Untitled 5, 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.98(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
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MALICK SIDIBE
Untitled 5, 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.98(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
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Any Comment? *
* Required fields
Malick Sidibe (Malian, 1936 - 2016)

Untitled 5 , 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
12.01(w) x 15.98(h) inches
Gelatin silver print

Image size: 25(w) x 37.5(h) cm.

Unsigned.
PRICE
$ 1,170.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
The success of the collaboration between Seydou Keïta and Eyestorm in 2000 opened several doors to some of the leading West African photographers in the early years of the gallery. From ‘Bamako Nights’ several images were selected with the potential of being released as multiples, but no photographic editions were ever completed. The gelatin silver prints now available, that were all part of the selection process, are unsigned and come with a letter of provenance from Eyestorm.

To view the photographs in further detail and to find more information about the works now available, visit Malick Sidibé’s artist page here.
MALICK SIDIBE
Untitled 7, 2000

40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.98(w) x 12.01(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
Your Offer *
Name *
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* Required fields
MALICK SIDIBE
Untitled 7, 2000

40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.98(w) x 12.01(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
Malick Sidibe (Malian, 1936 - 2016)

Untitled 7 , 2000

40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.98(w) x 12.01(h) inches
Gelatin silver print

Image size: 37.5(w) x 25(h) cm.

Unsigned.
PRICE
$ 1,170.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
 
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