Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt at Pulitzer Arts Foundation, through August 11, 2019

“What is the potential of images to shape memory and legacy, and how do they function as instruments of religious, cultural, and political conflicts? These questions are at the heart of Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt, an exhibition examining specific moments from the rich history of one of the world’s oldest and longest-lasting civilizations, periods when clashes between competing leaders, religions, and ideologies resulted in damage to and destruction of sacred and political images. 

Comprising some 40 masterpieces on loan from the Brooklyn Museum, this revelatory exhibition will show how exploring the motivations behind the destruction or defacement of objects can open avenues for a more expansive understanding of the art of ancient Egypt, where images functioned not only as a means of representation, but also as containers of intense and powerful spiritual energy. Moreover, in examining what appear to be random acts of destruction that are in fact carefully considered and targeted actions intended to deactivate an image’s strength, the exhibition raises timely questions about the power of images and their role in shaping memory and legacy.” — Pulitzer Arts Foundation

Striking Power Signature Image - BKM 37.1516E - edited PS9

Face and Shoulder from an Anthropoid Sarcophagus, 332–30 B.C.E. Black basalt, 18½ x 20½ x 5 in. (47 x 52.1 x 12.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1516E. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

36.615_profile_right_PS2

Kneeling Statue of Khaemwaset, circa 1281–1277 B.C.E. Diorite, 25 3/16 x 8 11/16 x 28¾ in. (64 x 22 x 73 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.615. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

35.1871_PS2

Shabti of Akhenaten, circa 1352–1336 B.C.E. Pink granite, 6 11/16 x 2 15/16 x 2 3/16 in. (17 x 7.5 x 5.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 35.1871. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

37.17E_SL1

Statue of a Family Group, circa 2371-2298 B.C.E. Limestone, 28 15/16 x 9 1/16 x 9 13/16 in. (73.5 x 23 x 25 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.17E. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

37.20E_front_PS1

Seated Statue of the Superintendent of the Granary Irukaptah, circa 2425–2350 B.C.E. Limestone, 29¾ x 11 x 16 9/16 in. (75.5 x 28 x 42 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.20E. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

37.29E_front_SL1

Scribe Statue of Amunhotep, Son of Nebiry, circa 1426–1400 B.C.E. Limestone, 26 x 13 3/16 in. (66 x 33.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.29E. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

37.36E_SL1

Temple Statue of Pawerem, Priest of Bastet, 570–510 B.C.E. Diorite or basalt, 18⅞ x 8½ x 11 in. (47.9 x 21.6 x 27.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.36E. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

37.353_front_SL1

Overseer of the Treasury Ptahhotep in Persian Costume, 525–490 B.C.E. Schist, 32 11/16 x 10⅝ x 12½ in. (83 x 27 x 31.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.353. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

37.1486E_PS9

Stela of Penamun, circa 1334–1295 B.C.E. Limestone, 25 x 18⅛ x 3¼ in. (63.5 x 46 x 8.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1486E. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

48.163_SL1

Head of the God Osiris, circa 595-525 B.C.E. Slate, 7⅞ x 3 x 4¾ in. (20 x 7.6 x 12 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 48.163. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

50.129_front_PS2

Shabty of the Scribe Amunemhat, circa 1400–1336 B.C.E. Wood, 8 7/16 x 2½ x 1¾ in. (21.5 x 6.3 x 4.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 50.129. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

60.197.6_view3_colorcorrected_SL1

Akhenaten and His Daughter Offering to the Aten, circa 1352–1336 B.C.E. Limestone, pigment, 8¾ x 1½ x 20⅜ in. (22.2 x 3.8 x 21.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 60.197.6. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

67.68_SL1

Kneeling Statue of Senenmut, circa 1478-1457 B.C.E. Granite, 18 9/16 x 6⅞ x 9 7/16 in. (47.2 x 17.4 x 23.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 67.68. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

37.34E_PS1

Upper Part of a False Door of Sethew, circa 2500–2350 B.C.E. Limestone, pigment, 22 1/16 x 20½ x 4 15/16 in. (56 x 52 x 12.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.34E. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt is organized by the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum, and is curated by Edward Bleiberg, Senior Curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Brooklyn Museum, and Stephanie Weissberg, Associate Curator at the Pulitzer.

Images courtesy Brooklyn Museum and Pulitzer Arts Foundation.