Getty Research Institute launches African American Art History initiative, acquires Betye Saar’s archive

The Getty Research Institute announced Tuesday the creation of an African American Art History Initiative with the acquisition of the archives of Los Angeles assemblage artist Betye Saar.

The initiative, which launched with a $5-million endowment, aims to establish the Getty as a primary center of scholarship, research and education for African American art and as a model for like-minded endeavors in the field.

“It’s taken a long, long time for the art world in general to figure out that there are African American artists,” said Saar, 92, over the phone from her studio. “Fifty years ago, we didn’t have the kind of recognition we have today, and it still has a long way to go.”

The Getty initiative, however, signals some real advancement, Saar said.

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