Willy Ronis was born in Paris in 1910. He became a full-time photographer in 1945. He joined Doisneau, Brassaï and others at the Rapho Agency. He was the first French photographer to work for LIFE Magazine, and Edward Steichen exhibited him at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953 in a show called Four French Photographers. He was also part of the Family of Man exhibit. The Afterimage Gallery gave him what was perhaps his first American art gallery show in 1985
African Photographer Malick Sidibé, was born in in 1935 or 1936, in Bamako, Mali, in what was then the French part of Sudan. He chronicled the exuberant life of the young people there in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, by making fun portraits of them in his studio, and also by documenting special events and parties.
In the mid-1990s, he achieved some international fame, and in 2003, he received the Hasselblad Award. At the presentation of the award, the Hasselblad Foundation made this statement:
"Malick Sidibé has documented an important period of West African history with great feeling, enthusiasm and commitment. In his portraits and documentary photography, he has uniquely captured the atmosphere and vitality of an African capital in a period of great effervescence. From the very beginnings of the postcolonial period, he has been a privileged witness to a period of tremendous, euphoric cultural change. As a young but already well-reputed photographer, Malick Sidibé captured a time of paradigm shift and youthful insouciance, curiosity about the rest of the world, pride, and confidence in the future. The work of Malick Sidibé, largely devoted to Malian youth in the 1950s and 60s, is a unique memoir and testimony. These photographs, originally intended for an African audience, are now available for the admiration of all."
In 2008, Malick Sidibé was interviewed for a short video about his work. A translation of that interview is printed here in its entirety. It’s a remarkable story, and it adds a richness of meaning to these photographs.