Betye Saar United States, b. 1926

"It is my goal as an artist to create works that expose injustice and reveal beauty. The rainbow is literally a spectrum of color while spiritually a symbol of hope and promise."
-Betye Saar

Betye Saar was born in July of 1926 in Los Angeles. She had worked as a social worker, jewelry maker, costume designer, and printmaker until she found her voice as a narrative artist through collage and assemblage. That voice sprang from her unique mix of life experiences, memories of the Watts Towers and a 1967 Joseph Cornell exhibit. Pulling from her interest in the occult and metaphysics, as well as childhood experiences with the women who raised her, Saar’s work became a powerful interpretation of the many facets of African American identity. For decades, much of her art incorporates “black collectibles” in order to upend racial and sexist stereotypes, gently using the narratives in her art to enlighten and transform.

Betye Saar received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1949. She attended California State University at Long Beach, the University of Southern California and California State University at Northridge for her graduate studies. She received honorary doctorate degrees by California College of Arts and Crafts, California Institute of the Arts, Massachusetts College of Art, Otis College of Art and Design, and San Francisco Art Institute.

Saar’s work is in the permanent collections of more than 60 museums, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Saar was featured in eight Pacific Standard Time exhibitions, including Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Saar’s work appeared in Take an Object at MOMA and 2016 exhibits at the Tate Modern, London and the Brooklyn Museum.
With special thanks to Roberts & Tilton.