The Getty Research Institute (GRI) in Los Angeles, California, has established an African American Art History Initiative with the acquisition of the archive of artist, Betye Saar. The archive, “The Betye Saar Papers,” covers her entire career by documenting all the details of her life as an artist. It includes her notable works in diverse media, annual files on her projects, and information on the artists she has collaborated with.
Saar said, “I’ve taken great pride in preserving these items for some 80 plus years. Items such as my early childhood drawings all the way through to the art ledgers that I continue to use on a daily basis. I am very pleased that the Getty Research Institute shares my desire for ‘saving things’ and that they will be providing a home for many of my collections so that they will be accessible by scholars, the arts community and the generally curious alike.”
In addition to acquiring archives and collections, the new GRI initiative will establish a dedicated curatorship in African American Art History, hire a bibliographer with a specialty in the subject, provide annual research graduate and post-graduate fellowships, and create a program to conduct oral histories of notable African American artists, scholars, critics, collectors and art dealers. The institute will establish partnerships with other institutions to digitize existing archival collections and collaborate on joint conferences, publications, and research projects. The GRI has allocated $5 million for the project and will continue to raise funds for future development.
“The Getty is making a strong, long-term commitment of unprecedented breadth to the field of African American art history,” said James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “The study of African American art history is fundamental to a comprehensive understanding of American art history. We aim to bring our resources, talents, and relationships together to promote advanced research in an area of American art that has been underfunded and under researched.”