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.

The Phrenologer’s Window

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

As America witnessed the rise of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, artists including Noah Purifoy and Betye Saar turned to assemblage and collage as powerful expressions of African American experience. Saar’s assemblage and collage constructions merge personal and family history with broader themes of cultural and political segregation. In The Phrenologer’s Window, Saar pasted eclectic objects and imagery—sun and moon symbols, fragments of advertising, vintage photographs, the lid of a tin can—inside a found wooden window frame. The work alludes to the outdated pseudoscience of phrenology, which raised questions about an individual based on the measurements of the head.

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Exhibition audio: Saar talks about making this work.

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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

  • Betye Saar

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

  • 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