Unknown artist, English, Lady Frances Knowles (?), circa 1660-80. Oil on canvas. Gift of Ellen du Pont Wheelwright

Feb. 12-June 28: 'Faces of the Collection'

'Faces of the Collection' exhibition set at Old College Gallery


8:50 a.m., Feb. 7, 2014--“Faces of the Collection,” featuring portraits, sketches and sculptures that focus on faces, will be on view Feb. 12-June 28 in the University of Delaware’s Old College Gallery.

Presenting and re-presenting works from the University Collection, the exhibition explores the diversity of the collection through the theme of “faces.”

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The Oxford English Dictionary offers a wide range of meanings for the word faces -- the front of the head of a human or an animal; a person, as in a “familiar face”; a representation of the face in art; or even a slang greeting for someone whose name has been forgotten. 

When faces are transformed into art, questions emerge. What makes a face a portrait  What do portraits reveal about their sitters, their creators, and their historical contexts? What is the difference between a portrait and a mask? What makes a face human? 

All of these questions and more come into play in this exhibition, the first in a series that will use selected themes as means of exploring the collection.

A Roman portrait bust comes into dialogue with Andy Warhol, and a mid-19th century American man of means converses with the 1963 wire sculpture Miscegenation by Hayward Oubre Jr. A self-portrait by the American artist Concetta Scaravaglione is brought into play with a 2nd century mummy portrait, a self-portrait by the Austrian expressionist Oskar Kokoschka and the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Beyond questions of representation, the exhibition seeks to introduce viewers to a wide range of media used by artists through time. Sculptures range from marble to wire to plaster; paintings from encaustic, to oil on canvas, to gouache; and prints from drypoint to lithography to Polaroid.

During the 2012 fall semester, with the support of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center, a group of faculty and staff met regularly to discuss new ways of looking at the University Museums’ collections. This exhibition, organized by a team of the University Museums staff, is indebted to those discussions.

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