b. 1926, USA

Betye Saar Artworks

Betye Saar's early works were printed on paper using a soft-ground etching technique, incorporating stamps, stencils, and found materials. The resulting patterns showed a blend of interests, including cosmology, family, and spirituality.

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Weaving Narratives

At the Pasadena Art Museum in 1967, Saar visited an exhibition of Joseph Cornell's repurposed sculptures, which convinced her of the material resonance of found objects. According to Saar, found objects not only had their own lives, but could be used to connect histories.

Cornell's work prompted Saar to make her own assemblages inside boxes and wooden frames, incorporating her own prints and drawings alongside scavenged objects bearing racist imagery, such as dolls and postcards.

Black Arts Movement

Partially autobiographical, Black Girl's Window (1969) showed a Black silhouette with blue eyes, hands pressed against the window frame, beneath skeletons and astrological symbols etched on nine smaller panes.

The work was in response to Black Boy's Window (1968), for which David Hammons, a member of the Blacks Arts Movement, printed his own body inside a window frame. The mixed-media assemblage of Black Girl's Window marked Saar's departure from print and preluded a lifelong involvement with racial politics.

Feminist Art

Beyond racial politics, Saar was also interested in contesting the dominant modes of art making as a woman. In 1970, Saar, Sue Irons, Yvonne Cole Meo, and Suzanne Jackson staged what is considered to be the first African American women's exhibition in California at Jackson's Gallery 32.

In 1973, Saar joined the founding board for Womanspace, a cultural organisation supporting feminist art and community in Los Angeles. In 1974, Saar and fellow artist Samella Lewis held a group exhibition of Black woman artists at Womanspace entitled Black Mirror, which attracted little interest from the white women within the community.

Return to Roots

Saar was introduced to African and Oceanic art on a 1970 field trip with Hammons. Made from natural materials, the ritualistic and spiritual qualities of these objects captivated Saar and inspired a deeper engagement with Black history through African objects.

Subsequent works like Nine Mojo Secrets (1971), a window installation, incorporated African imagery and symbols, astrological symbols, materials like leather, feathers, and bones, and mojos—amulet charms hailed for their magical and healing powers.

Liberation of Aunt Jemima (1972), arguably Saar's best-known work, is a three-dimensional assemblage that features a racialised 'mammy' figure Saar found at a flea market. The figure is set against a backdrop of advertising for Aunt Jemima-branded pancake syrup and inset in the figure's skirt is an image of a similar figure holding a white baby. With what appears to be cotton at her feet, the central figure holds a broom in one hand and a rifle in the other, turning a derogatory caricature into a symbol of resistance.

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A Siege of Sirens by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting, print
Betye Saar A Siege of Sirens, 1966 Lithograph on paper
20 x 15 inches
Anat Ebgi Contact Gallery
Boy with Watermelon by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Boy with Watermelon, 2020 Watercolour on paper
33 x 27.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Lookin' at 2 Dolls by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Lookin' at 2 Dolls, 2021 Watercolour on paper
33.7 x 27.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Male Doll with Yellow Legs by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Male Doll with Yellow Legs, 2020 Watercolour on paper
40.6 x 21.6 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Male Doll with Three Heads by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Male Doll with Three Heads, 2020 Watercolour on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Female Doll with Two Heads by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Female Doll with Two Heads, 2020 Watercolour on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Boy on Green Grass with Purple Sky by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Boy on Green Grass with Purple Sky, 2020 Watercolour on paper
33 x 27.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
5 Black Dolls by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar 5 Black Dolls, 2021 Watercolour on paper
50.8 x 40.6 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Black Doll in Mystic Space by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Black Doll in Mystic Space, 2021 Watercolour on paper
61 x 45.7 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Floating Black Doll w/ Red Ball by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Floating Black Doll w/ Red Ball, 2021 Watercolour on paper
48.3 x 36.8 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Male Doll with Two Heads and Two Masks by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Male Doll with Two Heads and Two Masks, 2020 Watercolour on paper
35.6 x 27.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Female Doll with Two Heads Above by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Female Doll with Two Heads Above, 2020 Watercolour on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Male Doll with Female Head by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Male Doll with Female Head, 2020 Watercolour on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Two Girl Dolls by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Two Girl Dolls, 2020 Watercolour on paper
33 x 27.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Floating Doll with Ball in the Galaxy by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Floating Doll with Ball in the Galaxy, 2020 Watercolour on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Female Doll with Two Heads Below by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Female Doll with Two Heads Below, 2020 Watercolour on paper
30.5 x 22.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Veve Doll with Red Necklace by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Veve Doll with Red Necklace, 2020 Watercolour on paper
27.9 x 22.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
The Secret Heart by Betye Saar contemporary artwork textile
Betye Saar The Secret Heart, 1987 Mixed media collage on fabric
64.8 x 69.8 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Mojo Eyes (Spirit Door) by Betye Saar contemporary artwork sculpture
Betye Saar Mojo Eyes (Spirit Door), 1992 Mixed media assemblage
217.2 x 50.2 x 1.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Black Doll w/ Critters by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting
Betye Saar Black Doll w/ Critters, 2021 Watercolour on paper
50.8 x 40.6 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Legends in Blue by Betye Saar contemporary artwork sculpture, mixed media
Betye Saar Legends in Blue, 2020 Mixed media assemblage
25.4 x 25.4 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
The Trickster by Betye Saar contemporary artwork sculpture
Betye Saar The Trickster, 1994 Mixed media tableau
223.5 x 71.1 x 33 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Globe Trotter by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture, photography, print
Betye Saar Globe Trotter, 2007 Mixed media assemblage
82.5 x 46.4 x 35.9 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
Woke Up This Morning, the Blues was in My Bed by Betye Saar contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture, photography, print
Betye Saar Woke Up This Morning, the Blues was in My Bed, 2019 Mixed media assemblage
64.1 x 198.1 x 109.2 cm
Roberts Projects Contact Gallery
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