The Phrenologer’s Window
On View at the Getty Center: Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970
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 The work alludes to the outdated pseudoscience of phrenology, which raised questions about an individual based on the measurements of the head.