Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List

Western Africa : Mali


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Bogolan et arts graphiques du Mali; [exhibition held at the Musée national des arts africains et océaniene, Paris, June 6-September 3, 1990]. Paris: ADEIAO, Musée national des arts africains et oceaniens, 1990. 64pp. illus. (pt. color). (Cahiers de l'ADEIAO, 9). N7399.M3B67 1990 AFA. OCLC 22192310.

The Groupe Bogolan based in Bamako have adapted Malian mud cloth (bogolanfini) to explore a modern artistic expression. Faithfully utilizing the traditional techniques and materials that village women have developed for dyeing mud cloth, these academically trained artists are evolving their own mud cloth idiom. Whereas the women's cloth is patterned with overall geometric designs, the urban artists paint figurative cloths, though they often retain the geometric borders that distinguish traditional bogolanfini. The six artists of the Groupe Bogolan featured in this 1990 exhibition in Paris were Kandioura Coulibaly, Fallo Baba Keita, Boubacar Doumbia, Souleymane Gora, Néné Thiam and Kélétigui Dembélé. Other Malian graphic artists featured were Salah Hidayat Diallo, Mamadou Habib Ballo, Ismael Diabaté, Nafogo Coulibaly, and Abdoulaye Konate.

Exhibition reviewed by Marie-Hélène de Toffol, "Arts africains contemporains," Afrique contemporain (Paris) no. 157: 63-69, 1er trimestre 1991.

Davis, Paul Ramey. A social history of painting in Bamako, Mali, 1930s--1980s. xv, 436 pp. illus. (chiefly color), bibliog. (pp. 342-358). Thesis (Ph.D.)--Indiana University, Department of History of Art, 2012. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2012. ND1099.M3 D38 2012a AFA. OCLC 978279506.

Davis’ dissertation on Malian painters focuses primarily on educational policy, colonial and postcolonial politics that impacted the arts, and arts infrastructure and market. His narrative is more about the political and social environment in Bamako as it affected Malian painters. Davis does not, however, neglect the paintings themselves. The themes and subject matter are studied in some detail. The painters discussed at length are Alpha Yaya Diarra, Salif Kanté, Victor Sow, Boubacar Tidiani Keita, Moussa Dembélé, Mamadou Somé Coulibaly, and Lamine Dolo.

He examines the goals and administration of the colonial era Maison des artisans soudanais and its successor, the Institut national des arts. A small but significant number of Malians were sent overseas by the government to study art—notably in France, Italy, and the Soviet Union. Also discussed is Mali’s participation in the World Festival of Negro Art (1966 : Dakar, Senegal) and the All-African Cultural Festival (1969 : Algiers, Algeria). All in all, the author fills a gap in modern art in Mali.

Guide des artistes plasticiens du Mali Tome 1. Bamako, Mali: Acte Sept, 2004. 111pp. illus. (color), portraits, bibliog. (p 105). N7399.M3G95 2004 AFA. OCLC 82119981.

This biographical guide to 30 Malian artists begins with an essay on the art scene in Bamako, which traces its evolution since the 1960s. For each of the 30 artists, there is a photograph of the artist and illustrations of a work, very brief biodata, principal exhibitions, and contact information. Most are younger artists who came of age along with Mali's independence and are not known internationally. A list of galleries, museums and art spaces is appended.