Sanlé Sory is a Burkinabe photographer born in 1943, owner of the Volta Photo studio. He lives and works in Bobo-Dioulasso.

Ibrahima Sanlé Sory began his photographic career in Bobo-Dioulasso the same year that his country became independent from France in 1960 under the name of Republic of Upper Volta. As a young apprentice working with a Ghanaian boss, he learned to work with a camera, before processing and printing his own photos. Like many African photographers of his generation, he chose the 6×6 format. He had the privilege of documenting the rapid evolution of his own city, Bobo-Dioulasso, then the cultural and economic capital of Upper Volta. He captured the frontal collision between modern life and the age-old traditions of this culturally rich and rural region.

He started his career documenting road wrecks in and around Bobo, riding motorbikes throughout the region. In the mid-1960s, he has opened his own photo Volta, which will soon become the best photo studio in the city. Entirely dedicated to his art and his work, he follows his own rule: “the more we love something, the more we invest in his passion”.

He worked as a reporter, illustrator of cuffs, official photographer but especially as a studio photographer. Very active, he represented the people of Bobo-Dioulasso with spirit, energy and pure passion. His background paintings, be it a modern city, a walk on the beach, an airplane or an antique column, were remarkable and did not resemble those of all. other photographers from his country.

Whether motionless or moving mischievously, his subjects illustrate in many ways the remoteness and melancholy of African cities in the heart of the continent. They also convey a juvenile exuberance following the first decades of African independence. Its objective examines the natural fusion between tradition and modernity. His black-and-white images really magnified this golden era before the 24×36 format and the common color films added to what William Eggleston called the “democratic forest”, an endless dilution of the photographic view into the public space.

Forgotten or unknown, the golden age of voltaic photography is fully embodied by Sory Sanlé whose images, preserved for many decades, display a unique social and cultural effervescence. Adorned with a certain natural elegance, Bobo-Dioulasso’s photographs echo Renoir’s words that “more local, more universal”.

Expositions solo

  • 2018 – Volta Photo: Sanlé Sory et le peuple de Bobo-Dioulasso : The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago-Volta Photo, Galerie Yossi Milo, New York, NY
  • 2017- Volta Photo 1965-85, Galerie Morton Hill Gallery, Londres
  • “L’âge d’or de la photographie voltaïque. Nouveau regard sur les indépendances.” Institut francais du Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso
  • 2016- Sory Sanlé, Institut francais de Casablanca, Morocco 2016
  • 2016- Sory Sanlé, Galerie 127, Marrakesh, Morocco


Exposition Permanentes

  • Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell
  • University, Ithaca, NY High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Titre: Je vais décoller

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