Exhibition

Powerful Figures

On view September 28, 2019 to January 1, 2022

Powerful Figures features sculptures from disparate cultures around the world and across time that embody the dual concepts of power, as both a fundamental social dynamic and part of our innate wiring to respond to figures and faces. Curved niches encourage visitors to engage with each artwork, like Alison Saar’s 2018 sculpture Weight, singly, decluttering the field of view and focusing attention. Poetically concise labels heighten the emotional tenor of the experience.

Share your impressions on social media using the hashtag #PowerfulFigures.

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Artist in Japan, Jizō Bosatsu,1279. Wood, lacquer, bronze, gold leaf and crystal. Gift of Dr. Charles Goddard Weld. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert.
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Chinese artist, Mr. Nobody, late 17th century. Porcelain. Museum purchase. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola.
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African artist Ndoli Jowei, mask, late 19th – early 20th century. Wood. Gift of Margaret Langmuir Jager. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola.
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Heiltsuk (Bella Bella) artist, mask, ca. 1845 Wood, pigment. Gift of Mr. Edward S. Moseley. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola
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Artists from the Marquesas Islands, ‘U’u Warrior Club, late 18th century, Carved toa, sennit and human hair. Gift of John Fitzpatrick Jeffrie. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert.
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Heaven and the Day of Judgement, rosary; carving; bead. Boxwood. East India Marine Society Collection. Gift of Elias Hasket Derby. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Walter Silver.
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Indian artist, The Goddess Vasurimala, mid-19th century Wood, water-based pigments. Gift of Robert P. Gay. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Kathy Tarantola.
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Alison Saar, Weight, 2012. Museum Purchase. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography Courtesy of L.A. Louver Gallery.