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Produced by WNET (New York Public Media) in 1977 and directed by Suzanne Bauman, Spirit Catcher: The Art of Betye Saar profiles the life and work of Saar, her fascination with the mystical and the unknown, merging with her social concerns as an African American woman. 

In the film, John Outterbridge, who as a young artist directed the Watts Art Center in the Watts area of Los Angeles where Saar spent summers as a child, comments "She could be a daughter to one of the pharaohs." It is something approaching wizardry that the artist puts together her stirring icons, using such materials as bones, beads, shells, teeth, fur, feathers and elephant hairs, as well as zodiac signs, old photographs, letters, and family memorabilia.

Spirit Catcher: The Art of Betye Saar will be screened continuously and will run parallel to Saar's participation in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power on view at The Broad beginning March 23rd, 2019. For additional information, visit

Betye Saar (b.1926) is one of the most important artists of her generation, playing a seminal role in the development of Assemblage art. Since the 1960s, her work has reflected on African-American identity, spirituality and the connectedness between different cultures.

Saar received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1949, with graduate studies at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Southern California and California State University at Northridge. She has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees by California College of Arts and Crafts, California Institute of the Arts, Massachusetts College of Art, Otis College of Art & Design, and San Francisco Art Institute.

Saar's work has been included in the permanent collections of more than 60 museums, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles.

Forthcoming exhibitions include Betye Saar: The Legends of Black Girls Window,Museum of Modern Art, New York, (October 21, 2019 - January 2020), and Betye Saar: Call and Response, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (September 22, 2019 - April 5, 2020), traveling to the Morgan Library, New York, and Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas.

Selected Works

Spirit Catcher: The Art of Betye Saar, 1977 Film Still

Spirit Catcher: The Art of Betye Saar, 1977
Film Still