Sidibé was born in Bamako, Mali. He was a peasant child who raised animals. From the age of five or six he began herding animals and working the land. When the time came he was chosen to be sent to the white school for an education. During his first year he became interested in art and by high school he was doing drawings for official events. The Major admired his talent and selected him to go to the School of Sudanese Craftsmen in the capital Bamako. It was at this school where Sidibé was approached by a photographer and learned the skills which he would pursue for the rest of his life.
In 1955, he undertook an apprenticeship at Gérard Guillat-Guignard's Photo Service Boutique, also known as Gégé la pellicule. In 1958, he opened his own studio (Studio Malick) in Bamako and specialized in documentary photography, focusing particularly on the youth culture of the Malian capital. Sidibé took photographs at sport events, the beach, nightclubs, concerts, and even tagged along while the young men seduced girls. Sidibé became noted for his black-and-white studies of popular culture in the 1960s in Bamako.
In the 1970s, he turned towards the making of studio portraits. His background in drawing became useful in a way that he was able to position people so they still appeared alive in photos rather than mummie like. People enjoyed the studio, it was different than others and had electricity which was a luxury at the time. Sidibé was able to increase his reputation through the first meetings on African photography in Mali in 1994.
His work is now exhibited in Europe (for example, the Fondation Cartier in Paris), the United States and Japan. Many of his photographs are part of The Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) of Jean Pigozzi. In 2003, Sidibé received the Hasselblad Award for photography. Sidibé was awarded the Venice Biennale's Golden Lion for lifetime achievement award in 2007. It was the first time it had been presented to a photographer.
Malick Sidibé is represented by Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp.
In 2006 Tigerlily Films made a documentary entitled Dolce Vita Africana about Malick Sidibé, filming him at work in his studio in Bamako, having a reunion with many of his friends (and former photographic subjects) from his younger days and speaking to him abouthis work. In 2008, Sidibé was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement. 
- Museum of Contemporary Art (solo), Chicago, USA, 1996
- Centre d’Art Contemporain (solo), Geneva, Switzerland (solo), 2000
- Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna (solo), Rome, Italy (solo), 2001
- Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (solo), 2001
- You look beautiful like that : The Portrait of Photographs of Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, USA; UCLA Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach FL, USA; National Portrait Gallery, London, Great Britain; Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts, MA, USA, (2001–2003)
- Musée Pincé, Angers (solo), France, 2003
- Hasselblad Center (solo), Göteborg Museum of Art, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2003–2004
- CAV Coimbra Visual Arts Centre (solo), Coimbra, Portugal. 2004
- Museet for Fotokunst. Brandts Klaedefabrik (solo), Odense, Denmark, 2004
- Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (solo), Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2008
- Why Africa?, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin, Italy 2007/2008
- African Stories, Marrakech Art Fair, Marrakech, 2010
- Paris Photo, Grand Palais, Artur Walther Collection, 2011
- Everything was Moving Exhibition, Barbican Gallery, 13 September 2012/13 January 2013
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Malick Sidibé.|
- Anglo-American Name Authority File, s.v. "Sidibé, Malick", LC Control Number nr 97026272. Accessed 2 April 2007.
- Artnet, s.v. "Malick Sidibe". Accessed 2 April 2007.
- Clewing, Ulrich. "Malick Sidibé: Pictures full of music". Culturebase.net. Accessed 2 April 2007.
- Hasselblad Foundation, The 2003 Hasselblad Award Winner. Accessed 2 April 2007.[dead link]
- Contemporary African Art Collection, Geneva