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Betye Saar: Black Doll Blues

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Roberts Projects / Los Angeles / Art

“I never had a Black doll as a child because Black dolls were not manufactured back then,” says Betye Saar. “It wasn’t until college that I saw my first Black doll.” That doll was Amosandra, a character from the popular 1940s radio and TV show Amos ‘n’ Andy. Now 95, Saar has since collected many a Black doll—including rag dolls, tourist souvenirs, and lucky finds in flea markets. In her latest series of watercolors, Saar has made her treasured dolls the subject. The paintings, executed in flat shapes and a rich palette, were “a way to keep me feeling safe during the lockdown,” she explains. “Essentially, I was playing with my dolls.” —E.C.

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