Born in 1935 in Tivavouane (Senegal), Papa Ibra Tall attended the Special School of Architecture and Fine Arts school in Paris in 1955. He illustrated book covers for "Presence Africaine" editor, Alioune Diop, and it was in Paris that he discovered the militants of Negritude and black American jazz. In 1959, Tall organized an exhibition of black artists living in Europe for the second Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Rome.
In 1960 during a study tour in the U.S., he met jazz musician John Coltrane and activist Malcolm X. Upon independence, Tall returned to Senegal and became head of the “Section de Recherches Plastiques Nègres”.
It was at the Craft school of Sèvres (France) in 1962-1963 that Tall familiarized himself with ceramics, silk screen and tapestry, in which he excelled when he joined the National Manufacture of Tapestry created by President Senghor in 1966. Between 1975 and 1983, he became involved in various functions for the Ministry of Culture, before becoming CEO of the Senegalese Manufactures of Decorative Arts in 1989.
He participated in major cultural events such as: the 8th São Paulo Art Biennale (Brazil, 1965), the 1st World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar (1966), the 1st Pan-African Festival of Algiers (1969), the 1st Salon of Senegalese Visual Artists at the Dynamic Museum in Dakar (1973), the "Negro Art and Civilization of the Universal" Symposium on the occasion of the Picasso exhibition (Dakar, 1972) and the World Congress of the International Society for Education through Art in Adelaide, Australia (1978).
Between 1974 and 1991 his works were part of travelling exhibitions of contemporary Senegalese art in Europe, Asia and America. He has had several solo exhibitions since the sixties (in Canada, France, Russia and Senegal), the most recent of which was "Papa Ibra TALL Drawings" at the National Gallery of Art in Dakar (1991).
Tall has received numerous honours including Commander of the “Palmes Académiques" of the Republic of Senegal, Knight of the Order of Rio Branco (Brazil) and he is honoured citizen of the City of New Orleans and Atlanta (USA).