Iba N'Diaye has been called the father of Senegalese modern art. As a young artist working for the cinema in his home town, N’Diaye developed a style that would influence his life’s work. He first trained as an architect in Senegal, then in France: at the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts), Montpellier; the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts), Paris (Atelier Pingusson); and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière (1949–58). N'Diaye returned to Senegal when his country won independence in 1959. There, at the request of President Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001), he founded the Departement des Arts Plastiques (Department of Plastic Arts) at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Dakar (National School of Fine Arts of Dakar), heading this department until 1967.
N'Diaye participated in many exhibitions, including the Salon d’Automne (Autumn Salon), Paris (1962); the Bienal de São Paulo (1963, where he won the bronze medal); and the seminal exhibition Contemporary African Art at the Camden Arts Centre, London (1969). In the 1970s he divided his time between his "Atelier la Ruche," Paris, and his home in the Dordogne, in southwestern France, where he painted some of his best-known works, including a series on the theme of the biblical ritual slaughter of a lamb (the "Tabaski" series).