Born in Soloba, Mali in 1936, he graduates in 1955 from the School for Sudanese Arts in jewelry confection. Recruited by Gérard Guillat, a French resident in Bamako, as an interior designer, Sidibé learns about photography. Three years later, the young photographer opens “Studio Bamako” in the popular neighborhood of Bagadadji. His joyful and playful personality immediately sets the stage of a theatrical decor in motion. Sidibé is a perfectionist and a director. Using his ability for drawing, he carefully thinks every posture, costume, and arrangement.
Sidibé has won numerous prizes since coming to international attention in the 1990s, including the Hasselblad Award (2003), the Golden Lion at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007), the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, New York (2008) and The World Press Photo Award in Arts and Entertainment (2010). Sidibé became an Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Paris, France in 2011. His photographs have been widely exhibited including in the pivotal exhibition In/sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present (1996, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY), Flash Afrique! Fotografie aus Westafrika (2001-3, Kusthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria and Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany), The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945-1994 (2001-3), You Look Beautiful Like That: The Portrait Photographs of Seydou Keita and Malick Sidibé (2001-2) and more recently in A Useful Dream: African Photography 1960-2010 (2010, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium), Who, What, Wear: Selections for the Permanent Collection (2012, Studio Museum Harlem, New York, NY), Everything was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s (2012, Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK), The Progress of Love (2012-3, The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas), Malian