Roberts Projects is pleased to present Betye Saar: FESTAC '77, a selection of the artist's work organized around her participation in the festival FESTAC '77. The exhibition highlights how, inspired by her FESTAC journey, Saar's assemblages and collages from the period investigate concepts of the ritual, community, inherited traditions, and how objects retain the histories of their owners. Betye Saar: FESTAC '77 is conceived and designed by the 91 year-old artist.
FESTAC '77, or the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, was a major international arts festival held in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977. In terms of scale and ambition, FESTAC '77 had no precedent. The month-long event showcased internationally a wide range of African fine art, literature, drama, dance, and music. 16,000 participants, representing 56 African and African Diaspora nations and countries, performed; the American delegation included artists Betye Saar, Samella Lewis, Faith Ringgold, Barkley Hendricks, Nathaniel Bustian, Ta-coumba T. Aiken, and Noah Purifoy. Despite its historical importance, FESTAC ’77 remains relatively unknown.
Saar’s participation was part of a new, vigorous interest in the political potentialities that crystallized during the U.S. Black Arts Movement. The festival provided a forum for diverse contributions divesting from European-derived aesthetics and thematics, representing a broadening of focus within Afrodiasporic studies.
Betye Saar captured the optimism of FESTAC '77 in her sketches onsite. Her subsequent assemblages and collages absorbed the multiple social and political influences, specifically African-American women’s political mobilization, collective action, and historical traditions of resistance.
Betye Saar: FESTAC ‘77 will be the first time this body of work is exhibited together.
Betye Saar: FESTAC ’77
Text by Camille Mary Weiner
This publication accompanies the exhibition Betye Saar: FESTAC ’77 at Frieze New York, Roberts Projects Stand SP17, May 3-6, 2018
Published by Roberts Projects, Culver City, California
Format: Softcover, 9 x 6 inches / 30 pages / 24 color images
To download a digital version of the Betye Saar: FESTAC '77 catalogue published in conjunction with the presentation, please visit robertsprojectsla.com
As one of the artists who ushered in the development of Assemblage art, Betye Saar's practice reflects on African American identity, spirituality and the connectedness between different cultures. Her symbolically rich body of work has evolved over time to demonstrate the environmental, cultural, political, racial, technological, economic, and historical context in which it exists. Saar's artworks are included in the permanent collections of over 60 museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY), Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, DC), National Gallery of American Art (Washington, DC), and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA). In 2016, Fondazione Prada (Milan, Italy) organized Betye Saar's retrospective, titled Uneasy Dancer. In 2017, Saar's artworks were featured in her solo exhibition Betye Saar: Keepin' It Clean at Craft and Folk Art Museum (Los Angeles, CA), traveling in 2018 to New-York Historical Society (New York, NY); We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85 at Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY), traveling to California African American Museum (Los Angeles, CA). In 2018, Saar was included in Outliers and American Vanguard Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, traveling to the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA); along with the highly-acclaimed group exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power at Tate Modern (London, UK), traveling to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR) and Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY). In 2019, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA) will mount Betye Saar: Call and Response. Betye Saar (b. 1926) lives and works in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, California.
For additional information, please contact Mary Skarbek: 323.549.0223, email@example.com
For additional information for Frieze New York, please visit frieze.com