Faces and Facets

Cecil Beaton, British, 1904–1980: Marlene Dietrich. Gelatin silver print, 19.2 x 17.3 cm. Gift of Remak Ramsay, Class of 1958 (2011-174) © Estate of Cecil Beaton.

Each year, the Princeton University Art Museum acquires works that build on the strengths of its holdings, meet teaching needs, open up new areas of research and discovery, or capture the spirit of our time. Gifts to the collections bring works of remarkable quality that would often otherwise be beyond the Museum’s reach, while the generosity of benefactors past and present enables us to shape our holdings through purchases. The exhibition Faces and Facets features fifty exceptional recent acquisitions from across the collections. Most have never been on view at the Museum, and some have never been exhibited.

The title of the exhibition points to the multifaceted nature of the Museum’s holdings, which span the globe and over 5,000 years of world history. The title also brings attention to the many facets of an individual artwork, whether the character of its external surface or its intrinsic qualities. Divided into four thematic categories—faces and facets, symmetry, assemblage, and revealing and concealing—this installation suggests conceptual connections between works of art that might appear dissimilar. A work of art can take on new meaning due to the way it is described, how it is displayed, or the context in which it is seen. As these recent acquisitions live on in the Museum, their history, significance, and meaning will be interpreted anew.