Betye Saar, American (1926 - )

1926 Born, Los Angeles, CA.

Betye Saar, born in Los Angeles, graduated from the University of California and continued graduate studies at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Southern California and California State University at Northridge. Saar is known for her multimedia collages, box assemblages, altars and installations consisting of found materials. She states, “I am intrigued with combining the remnant of memories, fragments of relics and ordinary objects, with the components of technology. It’s a way of delving into the past and reaching into the future simultaneously.” In her work, Saar voices her political, racial, religious and gender concerns in an effort to “reach across the barriers of art and life, to bridge cultural diversities and forge new understandings.” In 1998 with the series Workers + Warriors, Saar returned to the image of Aunt Jemima, a theme explored in her celebrated 1972 assemblage, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima. Saar has received numerous awards of distinction including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1974, 1984), a J. Paul Getty Fund for the Visual Arts Fellowship (1990) and a Flintridge Foundation Visual Artists Award (1998). In 1994, Saar, along with artist John Otterbridge, represented the United States at the 22nd Biennial of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

In 2005, the University of Michigan Museum of Art organized the traveling exhibition Betye Saar: Extending the Frozen Moment which examined her incorporation of photographic fragments in her work. A role model for generations of African-American women, Saar has raised three daughters, two of whom (Alison and Lezley) are accomplished artists. Saar continues to work and live in Los Angeles.

1949 B.A. University of California, Los Angeles, CA, Graduate Studies at California State University, Long Beach, CA; University of, Southern California; and California State University, Northridge, CA

1974 National Endowment for the Arts Award

1984 National Endowment for the Arts Award

1990 J. Paul Getty Fund for the Visual Arts Fellowship, Malibu, CA

1990 22nd Annual Artist Award, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY

1991 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York, NY

1991 Honorary Doctorate Degree, California College of Arts & Crafts, Oakland, CA

1992 James VanDerZee Award, Brandywine Workshop, Philadelphia, PA

1992 Honorary Doctorate Degrees: Otis/Parson, Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA; Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA

1993 Distinguished Artist Award, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA

1995 Honorary Doctorate Degree, California Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA

1998 Flintridge Foundation Visual Artists Award

1999 National Artist Award, Anderson Ranch Art Center, Snowmass Village, CO

1999 Living Artists Award, The California Art Education Association, Pasadena, CA

2000 Annual Pioneer Awards, I.A.M., New York, NY

Selected Exhibitions

2002 Betye Saar: Colored – Consider the Rainbow, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY; Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA (solo)

2002 African-American Art: 20th Century Masterworks, IX, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY(traveled) (group)

2001 Art of the Masters: A Survey of African American Images, 1980-2000, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY (group)

2000 Strength and Diversity: A Celebration of African American Artists, Carpenter Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (group)

2000 In Service: A Version of Survival, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY (solo)

1999 The American Century: Art and Culture, 1900-2000, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (group)

1998 Workers + Warriors: The Return of Aunt Jemima, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York, NY (traveled) (solo)

1994 25 Years of African-American Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (group)

1990 Secrets, Dialogues, Revelations: The Art of Betye and Alison Saar, The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA (traveled) (group)

1990 Sanctified Visions, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (solo)

1989 The Appropriate Object, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York, NY (group)

1987 Sentimental Sojourn: Strangers & Souvenirs, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA (solo)

1985 Tradition and Conflict: Images of a Turbulent Decade 1963-1973, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (group)

1984 In Context, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (solo)

1980 Rituals, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (solo)

1977 Betye Saar, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (solo)

1977 Painting & Sculpture in California: The Modern Era, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC (group)

1976 Matrix 22: Betye Saar, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT (solo)

1972 One Woman Exhibit, Multi-Cul Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (solo)


2000 Betye Saar: In Service, A Version of Survival. New York, NY: Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

1998 Betye Saar: Workers + Warriors, The Return of Aunt Jemima. New York, NY: Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

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