News Archive 2009-2018

Museum of Art’s Valentine Greetings by Artist Betye Saar Archives

Joachim Homann


The Bowdoin College Museum of Art was recently on the receiving end of a box of eye candy – a collection of valentines and other cards by renowned American artist Betye Saar. As Museum Curator Joachim Homann explains, each has at its center messages of art, life and love.

As an expression of her five-decade long friendship, artist Betye Saar sent Helen Hughes many postcards, valentines, and birthday greetings that are now becoming part of Bowdoin’s collections of art and manuscripts.

“For Betye,” Helen Hughes explains, “there is no real distinction between “art’ and “life.’

As she says: “What’s the difference?’ So, whether she is designing ceramic tiles, greeting cards, a garden, doing the interior design of my adobe home, raising daughters-or deciding what to wear and how to do her hair for an opening-she does it in her own, unmistakably her own, charming and evocative way.”

The collection of memorabilia hints at the artist’s talent of finding beauty in the everyday. California artist Betye Saar (born 1926) is widely regarded as a leading figure in contemporary art.Influenced in part by Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers in Los Angeles and the work of Joseph Cornell, she discovered the poetic qualities of ephemeral objects that she composes in collages and assemblages.

She often powerfully addresses and repudiates racial clichés and sometimes aims for a spiritual intensity that belies the humble raw materials of work. Saar lectured at Bowdoin College in 2007.

Betye Saar’s Valentines for Helen Hughes. Images copyright Betye Saar. Courtesy of the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery  LLC, New York, NY.

thumb:Sophie Washington ’19