Betye Saar: Call and Response

September 12, 2020 through January 31, 2021

Los Angeles–based artist Betye Saar (b. 1926) emerged in the 1960s as a major voice in American art. Part of a wave of artists, many of them African American, who embraced the medium of assemblage, she is known best for incisive collages and assemblage sculptures that confront and reclaim racist images. The daughter of a seamstress, and a printmaker by training, Saar brings to her work a remarkable sensitivity to materials. Her imagery is drawn from popular culture, family history, and a wide range of spiritual traditions. 

This exhibition, conceived in close consultation with the artist, looks at the relationship between Saar’s finished works and the preliminary annotated sketches she has made in small notebooks throughout her career. In addition, the show will include approximately a dozen of Saar’s travel sketchbooks with more finished drawings and collages—often relating to leitmotifs seen across her oeuvre—which she has made over a lifetime of journeys worldwide. Selections will cover the span of her career, from the late 1960s up through a sculptural installation made specifically for this exhibition.

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This exhibition is organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The exhibition is curated by Carol S. Eliel, Senior Curator of Modern Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The coordinating curator at the Morgan Library & Museum is Rachel Federman, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings.

Betye Saar: Call and Response is made possible with lead corporate support from Morgan Stanley and lead support from the Ford Foundation. Additional support is provided by Agnes Gund; Louisa Stude Sarofim; The Lunder Foundation – Peter and Paula Lunder family; Francis H. Williams and Keris Salmon; the Terra Foundation for American Art; and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California.

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Betye Saar (b. 1926), Sketchbook page for Eyes of the Beholder, November 6, 1994. Watercolor and ballpoint pen. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California. © Betye Saar.