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Betye Saar, Black Girl’s Window, 1969. Photo: Lauren Cavalli.
Betye Saar, Black Girl’s Window, 1969. Photo: Lauren Cavalli.

Betye Saar Wins 2020 Wolfgang Hahn Prize

Betye Saar has been named the winner of the twenty-sixth Wolfgang Hahn Prize. Administered by the Society for Modern Art at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the institution will soon add a work, or a series of works, by the Los Angeles–based artist to its collection. Saar is known for creating assemblage and collage works that tackle issues of race and politics and draw from a myriad of sources, including shamanism and her own personal history. She will be presented with the award at a ceremony at the museum on April 21, which will mark the opening of an exhibition of her work.

“In the United States, Betye Saar has long been known to art enthusiasts,” said Yilmaz Dziewior, the director of the Museum Ludwig. “Today institutions such as MoMA in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum devote high-profile solo exhibitions to her. In Europe, by contrast, her work is still far too little known. It is our stated goal to change this and finally give the artist the attention she deserves.” Saar’s print practice is currently the focus of a major solo exhibition, “Betye Saar: The Legends of Black Girl’s Window,” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which reopened after a $450 million expansion last month.

Saar was chosen for the award by a jury comprising Dziewior; Christophe Cherix, chief curator of drawings and prints at MoMA; and the board members of the association. Commenting on her work, Cherix said: “Having grown up in a racially segregated society, Saar has long held that art can transcend our darkest moments and deepest fears. Today, the emergence of a new generation of artists mining her poignant legacy attests to how profoundly Saar has changed the course of American art. The 2020 Wolfgang Hahn Prize not only acknowledges her extraordinary achievements and influence, but also recognizes the need to revisit how the history of art in recent decades has been written.”

Installation view of “Betye Saar: The Legends of Black Girl’s Window” (2019) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Photo: Lauren Cavalli.