Uneasy Dancer Betye Saar

Published by the Prada Foundation, Milan, 2016, 320 pages (colour & b/w ill.), 17 × 23 cm, English/Italian

Price: €35

Inspired by Joseph Cornell’s assemblages and Simon Rodia’s Los Angeles monuments, the Watts Towers (made from found scrap materials), Betye Saar’s work mixes surreal, symbolic imagery with a folk art aesthetic. As a participant in the robust African-American Los Angeles art scene of the 1970s, Saar appropriated characters such as Aunt Jemima, Uncle Tom, and other stereotypes from folk culture and advertising in her works—usually collages and assemblages. African tribal mysticism, history, memory, and nostalgia are also important for Saar. She was invited to participate in “Pacific Standard Time,” a 2011 survey of influential LA artists, for which she created Red Time, an installation of her assemblages from both past and present that explored the relationship between personal and collective history. “I’m the kind of person who recycles materials but I also recycle emotions and feelings,” she explains.

Kellie Jones, in her essay ‘To/from Los Angeles with Betye Saar’ points out that Saar’s focus on the female body, a full decade before the pre-eminence of feminist art-making in the 1970s, speaks to her force as a member of the vanguard and the visionary.

#2016 #betyesaar #kelliejones
South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s Kellie Jones

Published by Duke Press, Durham, 2017, 416 pages (b/w ill.), 15 × 22.5 cm, English

Price: €22

In South of Pico, Kellie Jones (curator of Now Dig This, 2011) explores how the artists in Los Angeles’s black communities during the 1960s and 1970s created a vibrant, productive, and engaged activist arts scene in the face of structural racism. Emphasizing the importance of African American migration, as well as L.A.’s housing and employment politics, Jones shows how the work of black Angeleno artists such as David Hammons, Melvin Edwards, Betye Saar, Charles White, Noah Purifoy, and Senga Nengudi spoke to the dislocation of migration, L.A.’s urban renewal, and restrictions on black mobility. Jones characterizes their works as modern migration narratives that look to the past to consider real and imagined futures. She also attends to these artists’ relationships with gallery and museum culture and the establishment of black-owned arts spaces.

#1 #2017 #betyesaar #charleswhite #davidhammons #johnoutterbridge #kelliejones #marenhassinger #melvinedwards #noahpurifoy #senganengudi