Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer at Fondazione Prada, Milan, September 15, 2016 – January 8, 2017

Uneasy Dancer is a comprehensive survey of work by Betye Saar (Los Angeles, 1926). It is the first exhibition of the American artist in Italy, and brings together over 80 works including installations, assemblages, collages and sculptures produced between 1966 and 2016.

“Uneasy Dancer” is an expression Betye Saar has used to define both herself and her artistic practice. In her own words, “my work moves in a creative spiral with the concepts of passage, crossroads, death and rebirth, along with the underlying elements of race and gender.” This process implies “a stream of consciousness” that explores the ritualized mysticism present in recovering personal stories and iconographies from everyday objects and images. Several key elements lie at the center of her artistic practice: an interest in the metaphysical, the representation of feminine memory, and African-American identity which, in her work, takes on takes on evocative and unusual forms. As Saar has said about her work, “It was really about evolution rather than revolution, about evolving the consciousness in another way and seeing black people as human beings instead of the caricatures or the derogatory images.”

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Installation view of Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer at Fondazione Prada, Milan. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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Installation view of Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer at Fondazione Prada, Milan. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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From left to right: Betye Saar, Ten Mojo Secrets, 1972. Betye Saar, Mystic Window for the Universe, 1972. Betye Saar The Phrenologer’s Window II, 1966. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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Right: Betye Saar, The Phrenologer’s Window II, 1966. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer. View of the exhibition at Fondazione Prada, Milan. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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From left to right: Betye Saar, Sambo’s Banjo, 1971–72. Betye Saar, Blues Men, 2006. Betye Saar, History (his/story), 2005. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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From left to right: Betye Saar, Sambo’s Banjo, 1971–72. Betye Saar, Blues Men, 2006. Betye Saar, History (his/story), 2005. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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View of the installation: Betye Saar, The Alpha and the Omega, 2013-2016. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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Left: Betye Saar, A Call to Arms, 1997 Right: Betye Saar, The Phrenologer’s Window II, 1966. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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From left to right: Betye Saar, The Weight of Waiting, 2014. Betye Saar, Crossings, 2005. Betye Saar, Migration: Africa to America I, 2006. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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Installation view of Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer at Fondazione Prada, Milan. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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From left to right: Betye Saar, Calling Card, 1976. Betye Saar, Record for Hattie, 1975, Betye Saar, Veil of Tears, 1975. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

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Betye Saar at Fondazione Prada. Photo Roberto Marossi. Courtesy Fondazione Prada

Curator Elvira Dyangani Ose notes, “Saar’s works blur boundaries between art and life, between physical and metaphysical. Spirituality in her work, does not only resides in the works with which she addresses her concerns and her knowledge on a myriad of traditions. On the contrary, it is to be found in the artistic exercise of transforming common material in a sort of evocative new imagery, involving the viewer in reminiscent fabulations of the real.”