A CBS SUNDAY MORNING profile of assemblage artist Betye Saar aired Feb. 23. The segment opens with red carpet footage of the Art + Film Gala held last November at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Honored that evening, Saar walks the red carpet in a black beaded gown by Gucci (one of the event sponsors) aided by a carved-wood cane with a sculptural figure at the top—a work of art.

Inside, John Legend graciously paid tribute to Saar, whose work in on view in the museum. “Betye Saar: Call and Response” is described as “the first exhibition at a California museum to address her entire career and the first anywhere to focus on her sketchbooks.”

 


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Art + Film Gala (Nov. 2, 2019) paid tribute to artist Betye Saar, shown with John Legend who introduced her and LACMA Director Michael Govan. | Photo LACMA

 

Over the course of her career, Los Angeles-based Saar has had more than 70 solo institutional exhibitions, showing her work in museums, art centers, and university galleries throughout the United States and abroad. It’s been a long wait, however, more than 50 years, to see a broad survey of her work in her home state.

The LACMA show overlapped with a high-profile exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “Betye Saar: Black Girl’s Window,” was the first major survey dedicated to her printmaking.

In the all-important fall art season, Saar landed major exhibitions at two of the most prestigious art museums in the country. Then, six days after walking the red carpet at LACMA, she won the 2020 Wolfgang Hahn Prize from Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, which includes a cash award worth more than $100,000, an exhibition, and an accompanying publication. She is the first black woman to win the prize.

“This is kind of the Betye Saar moment,” CBS correspondent Serna Altschul says to the artist. “Does it feel any different to you?” Saar, 93, responds: “No. no. Only a few more aches and pains because I’m older. But the creative part of me is forever young.”

Betye Saar on the contemporary moment and the recent attention she’s received: “Only a few more aches and pains because I’m older. But the creative part of me is forever young.”

Saar is the latest visual artist to be featured on CBS News. Last year, CBS This Morning profiled Simone Leigh in May. A couple of weeks later, Anderson Cooper interviewed Mark Bradford on 60 Minutes.

A July report on CBS Sunday Morning featured curator Denise Murrell’s exhibition “Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today.” The segment included an interview with artist Mickalene Thomas, whose work was included in “Posing Modernity.”

In her CBS profile, Saar talks about her mixed-media works and installations and the found objects and materials she sources from flea markets and swap meets to assemble them. Some of her works are autobiographical. Most are more universal, making profound political and cultural statements exploring racism, feminism, and spirituality. She began producing the works in the 1960s and soon realized she was also making artistic statements.

Saar says to Altschul: “I received a few grants and I said, ‘Oh. someone out there sees me as an artist.’ So I just looked in the mirror and said, ‘You’re an artist Betye Saar,’ and just kept on making it.” CT

 

“Betye Saar: Call and Response” is on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sep 22, 2019–Apr 5, 2020

 

BOOKSHELF
Two special publications were published to coincide with Betye Saar’s exhibitions at LACMA and MoMA. “Betye Saar: Call and Response” documents the Los Angeles show. “Betye Saar: Black Girl’s Window” is a close study of “Black Girl’s Window,” her 1969 assemblage work from which the New York exhibition takes it title.

 


Feb. 23, 2020: Artist Betye Saar was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning by correspondent Serna Altschul. | Video by CBS News

 

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