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L.A. from Every Angle
Posted April 01, 2010 to photo album "L.A. from Every Angle"
As Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg shows, there are many different L.A.s inside the city limits. Joel Bleifuss takes us on the tour of how artists imagine Los Angeles.
Slide 19: L.A. of the new Artists
Betye Saar (1926- ) Los Angeles artist Betye Saar is a visual artist who creates assemblages.
The Liberation of Aunt Jemima (1972), shown here, is Saar’s most recognized work.
Saar credits Joseph Cornel, whose famous boxes she first saw in 1968, as one of artists who most influenced her. She was a prominent participant in what was known as the “Black Arts Movement” or BAM, the aesthetic/artistic of the black power movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Like Hockney, she lives in the hills above L.A.
According to the National Humanities Center website, “Since the early years of the twentieth century, a long line of critics and activists—among them W. E. B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and Larry Neal—have called for blacks to combat stereotyping by taking control of the images that define blackness and black people. Influenced by the assertive, confident black consciousness of the 1960s, some African American artists answered the call with a direct frontal assault. … Betye Saar went head to head with the formidable Aunt Jemima and with wit and irony redefined her meaning. The mammy has long been a staple of racial iconography in this country, created, owned, and used by whites. … The Liberation of Aunt Jemima … claimed the stereotype … mastered it, and deployed it as a weapon. … Saar’s piece offers three images of the advertising icon. A wall of boxes featuring Aunt Jemima’s classic smiling face makes up the background of the entire work. The assemblage’s middle ground is dominated by an Aunt Jemima statue, standing in cotton, with a broom in one hand, a pistol tucked under one arm, and a rifle leaning on the other. The statue, in turn, is fronted by what looks like a postcard of a mammy holding a crying white baby. The postcard is partially obscured by a black fist rising from a cloth in the colors of African solidarity.”