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Robert Hale, African American, b. 1947
Portrait of Betye Saar, 1998
Photographic materials on paper
18 x 13 in. (45.72 x 33.02 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Scripps College. Purchase made possible by the Jean and Arthur Ames Fund
Accession Number: 2012.4.10

"Betye Saar is widely viewed as one of the most distinguished figures in American art today. Born in 1926 in Los Angeles, she emerged in the 1960s as a seminal figure in the redefinition of African-American identity in art. Throughout her career, Saar has made art that challenges us to think about our societal responses to race and to the history of race in the United States. Though politically trenchant, Saar's work moves beyond protest to encompass a profound spirituality and an awareness of the things that link human beings across cultural lines and across time-"the human complexity which stereotypes are intended to conceal," in the words of writer Ralph Ellison. Her interest in nostalgia, particularly in evoking personal histories real and imagined, is often expressed through the incorporation of vintage portraits and personal affects in her work, as if to reconstruct and reclaim the identities of those lost to history. Best known for her richly evocative assemblages of found objects, Betye Saar has been included in numerous exhibitions and is represented in many major museum collections. This exhibition, organized by UMMA, will be the first focused retrospective of her career. "

From: University of Michigan Museum of Art -

Of this photo, the photographer stated:

This portrait of Betye was made at the California African-American Museum in Los Angeles in January 1998, on the occasion of her exhibition there. It was my first meeting with her. I had been sent there to make a portrait for the LA Weekly where I worked as a freelancer for several years. Before the shoot was over we were friends, and that friendship continues. We see one another both in California when I'm there, and here in Provence where I now live.

From: African American Visions: Selections from the Samella Lewis Collections catalog, (Scripps College, 2012), p. 55


silver gelatin print

Object Description
Betye Saar is depicted in full profile, looking to the left, her chin resting upon her left hand.

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