2020 Wolfgang Hahn Prize: Betye Saar

Monday, May 24, 2021
2020 Wolfgang Hahn Prize: Betye Saar

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the award ceremony and presentation for Betye Saar have been postponed to early summer 2021.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the award ceremony and presentation for Betye Saar have been postponed to early summer 2021. On May 30, 2021, the American artist will be awarded the twenty-sixth Wolfgang Hahn Prize by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig via Zoom.

The Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig purchased the assemblage The Divine Face from 1971 together with the Museum Ludwig for the museum’s collection as part of the prize awarded to Betye Saar. The work will be presented in the museum’s collection from June 1 to September 12, 2021 along with two etchings recently acquired through the “Perlensucher am Museum Ludwig” initiative as well as a collage and an artist’s book. The film Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business, which was produced by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for an exhibition there in 2019/2020, will also be shown as part of the presentation.

This recognition of the artist, who was born in Los Angeles in 1926 and is still little known in Germany, is long overdue, the jury consisting of Christophe Cherix, Robert Lehman Foundation chief curator of drawings and prints at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York; Yilmaz Dziewior, director of the Museum Ludwig; and the board members of the association decided. For more than fifty years, Betye Saar has created assemblages from a wide variety of found objects, which she combines with drawing, prints, painting, and photography.

Guest juror Christophe Cherix on Betye Saar: “In US art, Betye Saar’s work occupies a key position. Her assemblages from the 1960s and early 1970s combine issues of ethnicity, politics, and supernatural beliefs with her personal history. Saar, who grew up in a racially segregated society, has over the years adhered to her belief that art can overcome our darkest moments and deepest fears. Today, a new generation of artists draws from her awe-inspiring work and makes clear how Saar has changed the course of American art. The 2020 Wolfgang Hahn Prize honors Saar’s extraordinary achievements and influence. At the same time, it recognizes the necessity of reevaluating the historiography of art from recent decades.”


About Betye Saar

Betye Saar has lived and worked in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles for over fifty years. Since 1961 she has had countless exhibitions, especially in the United States. Her early important solo exhibitions include Black Girl’s Window at the Berkeley Art Center in California (1972) and Betye Saar at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (1975). In autumn 2019, MoMA in New York opened Betye Saar: The Legends of Black Girl’s Window (October 21, 2019 – January 4, 2020) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented Betye Saar: Call and Response (September 22, 2019 – April 5, 2020). Betye Saar: Call and Response traveled to New York, where it was shown at the Morgan Library & Museum (September 12, 2020 – January 31, 2021), and it is currently on view at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Mississippi (April 10 – July 11, 2021), after which it will travel to the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas (September 25, 2021 – January 2, 2022). In Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, Florida will focus on Saar’s installations from the 1980s and 1990s (October 21, 2021 – March 6, 2022). Saar is also a participant in numerous group exhibitions, including Now Is the Time: Recent Acquisitions to the Contemporary Collection (Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland, May 2 – July 18, 2021), Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art (Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, June 12 – September 5, 2021), as well as exhibitions at the Speed Museum of Art (Louisville, Kentucky, October 7, 2021 – January 2, 2022) and the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis,  Minnesota, February 19 – May 15, 2022).

The Museum De Domijnen in the Netherlands presented Betye Saar’s first solo exhibition in Europe (2015), followed one year later by the retrospective Uneasy Dancer at the Fondazione Prada in Milan. Saar has been awarded six honorary doctorates and has received multiple lifetime achievement awards. In May 2021 Betye Saar has become a member of the renowned American Academy of Arts and Letter.

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