While LACMA will be celebrating Betye Saar’s work this coming fall with the exhibition Betye Saar: Call and Response (opening September 22; Member Previews are September 19–21), today we celebrate her 93rd birthday!
Still Ticking, completed in 2005, is among the artist’s most self-referential assemblages. The years and astrological glyphs inscribed on the inner left side of the assemblage refer to family birthdays—Saar’s own in 1926 at the bottom of the column (making her a Leo, as identified by its glyph), as well as her daughters’—and other landmark family dates.
In the spring of 2004, when Saar was looking ahead to her 78th birthday, she made a sketch for this work that includes the parenthetical note “8 Decades” directly below the object’s title, clearly a reference to her own trajectory through time.
Still Ticking and the related sketch will be on view in Betye Saar: Call and Response. The title of the assemblage wittily refers both to the timepieces of the final work—which, of course, are not ticking; they are either frozen in time or missing their hands—and to Saar herself, who is alive and well and—even some 15 years later—resolutely still ticking. In fact, she recently completed a new, large-scale, mixed-media tableau that will debut this fall in Betye Saar: Call and Response. Still ticking indeed!
Happy Birthday, Betye Saar!