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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Art prize first for photographer
Malick Sidibe poses with his prize
Sidibe is the first African to receive the lifetime achievement prize
The Venice Biennale's prestigious Golden Lion lifetime achievement award has been presented to a photographer for the first time.

Malick Sidibe, from Mali, has spent decades recording the transformation of his country and its music scene.

"No African artist has done more to enhance photography's stature," said Biennale art director, Robert Storr.

"This prize honours all the world's photographers, Mali and myself," said Sidibe, 72, as he picked up the award.

Organisers of the Biennale said Sidibe was "the signal portraitist of his city and nation and the intimate observer of the Malian musical scene".

"He has preserved the likenesses of countless individuals while in the process recording the face of the rapidly changing society they, as citizens, have collectively brought into being."

Sidibe initially trained as a goldsmith, but later apprenticed himself to a French photographer, Gerard Guillat , before opening his own business in 1962.

The Biennale is one of the art world's most prestigious exhibitions, and this year features about 100 artists from 77 countries.

Tracey Emin is representing the UK with a series of pictures based on the abuse she suffered as a child, and her abortion in 1990.




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