Having been underestimated for decades this exhibition at the Maison Europeenne de La Photographie revives and celebrates the genre of studio photography and studio portraiture of four of the most renowned African photographers: Seydou Keita, Abdourahmane Sakaly, Sory Sanlé and Malick Sidibé.

Seydou Keïta’s remarkable archive of over 10.000 negatives came to light in 1992 after a discovery by André Magnin, the then-curator of Jean Pigozzi’s contemporary African art collection. Modern prints were printed from the negatives with Keïta’s collaboration, allowing his work to be introduced to the art world and consecutive international fame quickly followed.

People visited Keïta’s studio to have their picture taken at their best: wearing extravagant dresses made from wonderful textiles with splendidly formed headdresses, or posing in a modern Western suit with a bow tie, leaning against a motorcycle, or with a radio tucked under their arm. His oeuvre reflects a portrait of an era that captures his hometown Bamako’s transition from a cosmopolitan city in a French colony to the proud capital of independent Mali.

The oevre of Malick Sidibé tells a similar story. Curators took note of a vast collection of vintage photographs and portraits of a timeless beauty, from the artist’s archives and made it accessible to an international audience through gallery shows, museum exhibitions and monographs.

Sidibé’s exceptional black-and-white photographs provide 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.

Artists presented in the show:
Seydou Keita (1921 Bamako, Mali – 2001 Paris)
Abdourahmane Sakaly (1926 Saint-Louis, Sénégal – 1988 Bamako, Mali)
Sory Sanlé (1943 Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso)
Malick Sidibé (1935 Soloba, Mali – 2016 Bamako, Mali)

Through 17 November 2019