Art Stroll: MoMA Betye Saar

During the holiday season my husband and I want to a MoMA evening with Jazz for members. There is nothing better than the word Jazz to get the man out – LOL- just kidding ;) I think because of some snow right before we went the museum was empty- it was awesome. We finally also saw the Betye Saar exhibition. Betye Saar is known for her assemblage and collage work. Saar explores both the realities of African-American oppression and the mysticism of symbols through the combination of everyday objects. “I’m the kind of person who recycles materials but I also recycle emotions and feelings,” the artist has explained. “And I had a great deal of anger about the segregation and the racism in this country.”

The Wounded Wilderness, 1962 – Etching with relief printing.

She became interested in printmaking when she was studying design. It became her segue from design to fine art.

In the Dell, 1960 – Etching.

Her pieces were fascinating!

The Quick & the Dead, 1964 – Etching and collagraph with hand addtions and embossing with stamped ink

Mystic Window for Leo, Assemblage, etching

Saar found this window and used images of the leo and sky charts as this is an important symbol for her. I loved this so much!

Black Girl’s Window, 1969, wooden window fram with paint, cut-and-pasted printed and painted papers, daguerreotype, lenticular print and plastic figurine.

A silhouette of her head with floating moons and stars; an etching (her own) of a lion, her birth sign; a tintype of a woman who could be her Irish grandmother; and, at the center, a novelty shop Halloween skeleton alluding to her father’s death when she was a child, a loss she says she still lives with.

“Even at the time, I knew it was autobiographical”, Saar said of her now -iconic assemblage Black Girl’s Window. “It is like a diary of my life”

Saars printing materials – it was so interesting to see those and then try to find them again in her various prints.

Phrenology Man Digs Sol y Luna1966, Etching with relief-printed found objects

“Phrenology, a pseudoscience that has been definitively debunked, links portions of the human brain to different character traits and capacities. It gained popularity in the nineteenth century and was cited by proponents of slavery and segregation as proof of the inferiority of African Americans. That a black woman adopted this motif in her work may seem subversive, but according to Saar, she was attracted to phrenology as a map of the unknown, in keeping with her interest in astrology and palmistry. Her own Phrenology Man, who appears in this print and several others, has the words “SEX” and “HATE” tumbling through his mind, together with animals, flowers, and astrological signs.”

The Phrenologer’s Window II, 1966 – Wooden Window frame with cut-and-pasted printed paper, acrylic paint, and found objects on board

“You can make art out of anything.” Betye Saar

The Palmist Window, 1967 wooden window frame with cut-and-pasted printed paper and fabric with charcoal and acrylic paint

Comments (1)

  • chrissie


    loved this


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