Betye Saar - The Divine Face


Betye Saar (born in Los Angeles in 1926) works with found materials, which she assembles into artworks. She draws from a variety of sources: mystical, ethnological, everyday, and sociopolitical. She focuses in particular on African-American history in the United States.

Betye Saar: The Divine Face, 1971 © Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

The Divine Face, 1971

For The Divine Face from 1971 she was inspired by a magical scroll from Ethiopia from the late 19th century. She painted the star-shaped face on a cowhide and added one eye looking toward the earth and one eye looking toward the sky — in the words of the artist, “the all-protecting god”. Adorned with snakeskin and a peacock feather, the work combines history and spirituality and communicates Saar’s message of memory and empowerment.

The Divine Face was jointly acquired by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst and the Museum Ludwig.