Kongo: Power and Majesty at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 18, 2015 – January 3, 2016

Photographs by Corrado Serra.

“The exhibition focuses on one of the continent’s most influential artistic traditions, from the earliest moment of direct engagement between African and European leaders at the end of the 15th century through the early 20th century. The creative output of Kongo artists of Central Africa is represented by 146 works drawn from more than 50 institutional and private collections across Europe and the United States, reflecting five hundred years of encounters and shifting relations between European and Kongo leaders. From a dynamic assembly of 15 monumental power figures to elegantly carved ivories and finely woven textiles, the exhibition explores how the talents of Central Africa’s most gifted artists were directed toward articulating a culturally distinct vernacular of power.” — The Metropolitan Museum  of Art

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Luxury Cloth, Kongo Peoples, 17th–18th century

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Luxury Cloth, Cushion Cover, Kongo peoples, 17th–18th century

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Luxury Cloth, Cushion Cover, Kongo peoples, 17th–18th century

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Front: Oliphant, Kongo peoples, 16th century

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Front: Horn (Pungi), Kongo peoples, 19th century

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Masks, Kongo peoples, Yombe group, 19th–early 20th century

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Garment (Nkutu), Kongo peoples, 19th century

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Garment (Nkutu), Kongo peoples, 19th century

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Prestige Caps (Mpu), Kongo peoples, left and center: 19th century, right: 17th–18th century

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Prestige Cap (Mpu), Kongo peoples, 16th–17th century

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Basket, Kongo peoples, 19th century

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Ceremonial Vessel, Kongo peoples, 16th–17th century

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Tusk with Figurative Relief (detail), Kongo peoples, Vili group, ca. 1880-1890

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Power Figure: Kneeling Female with Serpents and Secondary Figures (Nkisi), Kongo peoples, Vili group, 19th century

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Power Figure: Standing Female with Child (Wife of Mabyaala?) (Nkisi) Kongo peoples, Vili group, 19th century

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Left and center: Ancestral Shrine Figure: Kneeling Female with Vessel and Seated Figure, Kongo peoples, Yombe group, 19th–early 20th century. Right: Ancestral Shrine Figure: Seated Female, Kongo peoples, Yombe group, 19th–early 20th century

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Ancestral Shrine Figure: Seated Female Date: Kongo peoples, Yombe group, 19th–early 20th century

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Installation view of Seated Female Figures and Power Figures (Nkisi N’Kondi: Mangaaka)

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Installation view of Power Figures (Nkisi N’Kondi: Mangaaka)

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Power Figure (Nkisi N’Kondi: Mangaaka), Kongo peoples, Yombe group, 19th century

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Power Figure (Nkisi N’Kondi: Mangaaka), Kongo peoples, Yombe group, 19th century

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Power Figure (Nkisi N’Kondi: Mangaaka), Kongo peoples, Yombe group, 19th century

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Installation view of Power Figures (Nkisi N’Kondi: Mangaaka)