Malick Sidibé : Mali Twist

Fondation Cartier, Paris, France
20 Oct 2017 - 25 Feb 2018

Malick Sidibé, Regardez-moi !, 1962.
Collection Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris.

Malick Sidibé, Regardez-moi !, 1962. Collection Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris.

Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presents Mali Twist*, the largest ever solo exhibition of works by the renowned photographer Malick Sidibé (1935 – 2016).

Along with iconic works, the exhibition , conceived and directed by André Magnin, in collaboration with Brigitte Ollier,  presents for the first time a vast collection of vintage photographs and portraits of a timeless beauty, from the artist’s archives. This exceptional collection of black-and-white photographs provides a thorough immersion in the life of the man who was nicknamed “the eye of Bamako.” The photographs reveal Malick Sidibé’s capacity, starting at the beginning of the 1960s, to grasp the vitality of the youth of Bamako and impose his unique style, recognized today throughout the world.

Through more than 250 photographs, many of them as yet unseen, Mali Twist retraces the extraordinary journey of Malick Sidibé. A large part of the exhibition is devoted to the Bamako soirées, which forged his reputation as “reporter of the youth.” In these photographs, couples intertwine, dancers vie to outdo one another in elegance, and pose or sway their hips to the sounds of twist, rock ‘n’ roll and Afro-Cuban music. The ensemble is made complete by the folders which Malick Sidibé designed in order to sell his photographs to clients after the soirées. Amongst his vintage photographs are images which have become legendary, such as Nuit de Noël 1963 [Christmas Eve 1963], Fans de James Brown [Fans of James Brown] or Je suis fou des disques ! [I Am Crazy for Records!]. The exhibition also highlights the diversity of portraits that Malick Sidibé made in his studio. Young people dressed in the latest fashion, a trio on a motorcycle, children in carnival disguises, women of perfect refinement, beaming adolescents; we find all parts of Bamako’s society in the portraits which have been gathered for the exhibition. By having them pose against a neutral background or a simple curtain, photographed sometimes in close-up, sometimes from low-angle, sometimes from behind, Malick Sidibé composes for each of his models an authentic and spontaneous equivalent on paper. About thirty of these portraits have been selected from the artist’s archives, from amongst tens of thousands of negatives, to be shown here for the first time.

During the exhibition the Nomadic Nights invite Malian artists, musicians, and thinkers to dialogue with Malick Sidibé’s work. Concerts, popular balls, traditional puppets, mobile photo studio, and meetings around music and dance will punctuate the exhibition as many projects and voices that echo the happiness that Malick Sidibé’s photographs inspire.

The catalogue Xavier Barral Editions, Paris French and English versions 300 colour and black-and-white reproductions Texts by André Magnin, Brigitte Ollier, Manthia Diawara, Robert Storr and Malick Sidibé





*The title Mali Twist refers to the eponymous song of Malian singer and guitarist Boubacar Traoré, released in 1963.


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