Viewing Room Main Site
Skip to content

Opening Reception: Saturday, February 24th, 4–6PM

Roberts Projects is pleased to present Betye Saar: New Work. Occupying the intersections of historic narrative and ancestral memory, factitive ritual and metaphysical truth, this exhibition is testament to Saar’s enduring legacy as a pioneer of Assemblage art and an American cultural icon. Referencing the tradition of accumulative sculpture that characterizes artistic conventions, Saar’s mixed-media assemblages emerge from a unique succession of gestures that meaningfully build upon each other. This process of accumulation takes aesthetic objects with profound epistemic weight—such as vintage wooden boxes, found objects and photographs—and thoroughly transforms them into mythical entities compounded by historical time.

As a key figure in the Black Arts Movement of the mid-20th century, Betye Saar’s prolific and interdisciplinary practice draws from personal narratives and cultural histories of the Black and African diaspora to make sacred connections between the quotidian and the sublime. Her symbolically rich body of work has evolved over time to demonstrate the environmental, cultural, political, racial, technological, economic and historical context in which it exists.

Saar’s early observance of Simon Rodia’s building methodology in constructing the Watts Towers in Los Angeles introduced her to ideas of how found materials can simultaneously embody both the spiritual and physical. This objective—paired with her personal interest in metaphysics, magic and the occult—formed the origin of Saar’s assemblage works. Subsequent series after her iconic work The Liberation of Aunt Jemima (1972) have sought to reveal marginalized or hidden histories, and Saar has long examined the social invisibility of Black Americans in service-oriented jobs, the construction of racial hierarchies based on skin tone within Black communities and the ways that objects can retain the memories and histories of their owners.

About the Artist

Betye Saar received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1949, with graduate studies at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Southern California and California State University at Northridge. Saar holds 6 honorary doctorates from California Institute of the Arts; Otis College of Art & Design; California College of Arts and Crafts; San Francisco Art Institute; Massachusetts College of Art; Cornish College of the Arts; and over 37 honors including two National Endowment for the Arts (1974, 1984); Studio Museum in Harlem (1989); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2019); Academy of Arts and Letters (2021). She has received 5 Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Congressional Black Caucus (2008); California African American Museum (2011); Edward McDowell Medal (2014); Museum of the African Diaspora (2017); and International Sculpture Center (2019).

Saar’s work is in over 80 museum collections including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; National Gallery of Art; Studio Museum in Harlem; Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 2018, the Museum of Modern Art acquired 42 important early works, making their holdings the largest public collection of Saar’s artwork.

Since 1961, Saar has been represented in over 900 exhibitions. Current exhibitions include: Betye Saar: Drifting Toward Twilight, The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA (November 11, 2023 – November 25, 2025); Paraventi: Folding Screens from the 17th to 21st Centuries, Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (October 25, 2023 – February 26, 2024); Entangled Pasts: 1768 – Now, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (February 3 - April 28, 2024); Mapping an Art World: Los Angeles in the 1970s-80s, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (June 18, 2023 – Mar 17, 2024); Cooking Cleaning Caring: Care Work in the Arts since 1960, Josef Albers Museum Quadrat, Bottrop, Germany (October 22, 2023 – March 03, 2024); Artist’s Choice: Grace Wales Bonner – Spirit Movers, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (November 18, 2023 – April 7, 2024); Groove: Artists and Intaglio Prints, 1500 to Now, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (December 16, 2023 – June 16, 2024); Betye Saar: Atlas | The Alpha and the Omega, Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (2021-present). Recent exhibitions include: Betye Saar: Heart of a Wanderer, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA (February 16 – May 23, 2023); Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL (October 21, 2021 – March 6, 2022), FRAC Lorraine Museum, Metz, France (September 9, 2022 – January 22, 2023), Kunstmuseum, Luzerne, Switzerland (February 25 – June 18, 2023).

The Betye Saar Catalogue Raisonné Project was established in 2016 to preserve Saar’s artistic practice and educate future generations about her significant contributions to American art history. For additional information, please visit betyesaarcatalogueraisonne.org

For additional information regarding Betye Saar, please contact Mary Skarbek, Senior Director at 1.323.549.0223 and mary@robertsprojectsla.com

PRESS INQUIRIES
For press inquiries, please contact Hannah Gottlieb-Graham, ALMA Communications hannah@almacommunications.co