Explore the Era

Delve into the postwar Los Angeles art world in this online archive, which provides additional material related to the exhibitions on view at the Getty Center. Learn about hipsters and happenings, and the venues across the city where all the action took place through images from the archives and first-hand accounts with the artists.

Betye Saar

Betye Saar

Betye Saar at her home and studio, 1972. Photo by Lezley Saar. Image courtesy of Betye Saar

Betye Saar was born in Los Angeles in 1926, grew up in Pasadena, California, and spent summers with her grandmother in the Watts neighborhood of southeast L.A. where she watched Simon Rodia construct the Watts Towers. She later studied art at UCLA and the University of California, Long Beach. Saar’s sculptures combine social commentary with spirituality, mysticism and craft, resulting in powerful works that speak to her point of view as an African American woman. Joseph Cornell’s carefully assembled boxes also proved influential for Saar, inspiring her to experiment with assemblage techniques, such as using found objects and framing devices like doors and window panes.

Historic Map Locations

Works of Art

  • The Phrenologer's Window

    The Phrenologer's Window, 1966, Betye Saar. Assemblage of two-panel wood frame with print and collage. 18 1/2 x 29 3/8 x 1 in. Private collection, courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY. © Betye Saar

Explore the Archive

  • Video: Betye Saar

    Video: Betye Saar speaks about her work, March 2011. Footage of the Watts Towers courtesy and © Over the Moon Productions

  • Watts Towers

    Simon Rodia's Towers (Watts Towers) in Los Angeles, 1967. The Getty Research Institute, Julius Shulman Photography Archive, 2004.R.10. Used with permission

  • Betye Saar, 1961

    Betye Saar viewing her etchings at a group exhibition in at the Palos Verdes Library Gallery in Palos Verdes, California, June 4, 1961. Photo by Richard Saar. Image courtesy of Betye Saar

  • Announcement, Betye Saar "Black Girl's Window"

    Announcement for Betye Saar exhibition Black Girl's Window at California State University, Los Angeles, 1973. © BetyeSaar. The Getty Research Institute, Gift of George Herms, 2009.M.20