Roberts & Tilton is pleased to announce, In Context, a group exhibition celebrating Betye Saar’s solo installation, Red Time. Artists proceeding, following and contemporary to Saar contextualize and historicize varying facets of Saar’s fifty-year oeuvre. Each participating artist references a particular aspect of Saar’s practice: found object Assemblage, socially charged imagery, or works of metaphysical focus.
Joseph Cornell’s Assemblage boxes were an early and prominent influence on Saar. Cornell’s 1967 retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum coincided with the emergence of Saar’s transition from drawing and printmaking to the Assemblage work for which she is best known. Man Ray and Robert Rauschenberg, both having well-documented histories working in Los Angeles, share similarities to Saar; Ray: in obscure content, Rauschenberg: in comparable style. Ray and Rauschenberg, along with Ed Kienholz, were part of the foundational bridge between Los Angeles and the international art world. In this exhibition, Ed Kienholz is represented by The Minister, a stately Assemblage from 1961. Like Saar, Kienholz utilized found objects as the underpinnings for social commentary—often harsh, complicated and grim; like Kienholz, Saar creates these challenging works as a vehicle for societal change.
Most often exhibited alongside Saar’s work are her peers: David Hammons, John Outterbridge, Dale Brockman Davis and George Herms. Since the 1960’s, Hammons, Outterbridge, Davis and Saar have often been written about, referenced and shown together—all growing out of a vibrant art scene in the once-marginalized Black Los Angeles art community. Together in 1994, Saar and Outterbridge represented the United States in the twenty-second Biennial of São Paulo, in an exhibition titled, “The Art of Betye Saar and John Outterbridge: The Poetics of Politics, Iconography and Spirituality.” The following year, Saar and Outterbridge again exhibited together in “The Art of Betye Saar and John Outterbridge” at the Africus Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa. George Herms’ Washboard and Dale Davis’ Trumpet Rag incorporate washboards into their respective works. The washboard is an icon that represents strength, endurance and emancipation (both female and African American) and is often found in Saar’s work—past and present.
Also integral to the exhibition are works by Saar’s daughters, Alison Saar and Lezly Saar. Both Saar daughters continue on themes set forth by Betye; Alison in subject and Lezley in methodology. Saar’s influence may be most noticeably seen on younger generations of artists who continue to deconstruct complex social issues. Radcliffe Bailey, like Saar, uses Assemblage to examine African American history with critical irony. Conversely, Hank Willis Thomas exercises a similar intent on a flat surface. Saar’s firm position in the canon of American art history is reflected In Context.
Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00am – 6:00pm.
For additional information, please contact Lauren Kabakoff at email@example.com or 323.549.0223.
Roberts & Tilton is a Participating Gallery of Pacific Standard Time. This unprecedented collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brings together more than sixty cultural institutions from across Southern California for six months beginning October 2011 to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene. For further details, please visit pacificstandardtime.org