In the 1960s, John Powers resigned from his position as president of a major publishing company and pursued his passion for collecting contemporary American art and antique Japanese art. His enthusiasm for Japanese art prompted him, along with his wife, Kimiko, to travel extensively throughout Japan and meet with art dealers and scholars to learn more about the works they wanted to collect.
The ’60s proved an ideal time for the Powerses to begin collecting. Japanese art was not widely known, and its obscurity allowed them to build a collection focused on exquisite pieces without the stress of competing collectors. Today, the Powers Collection is recognized as the premier collection of Japanese art in the United States and as one of the largest collections outside of Japan. Throughout their years of collecting, John and Kimiko Powers gathered together more than 300 paintings, scrolls, Buddhist sculptures, calligraphy, and illuminated documents that reveal the stories and innovation of Japan’s artistic evolutions.
Unrivalled Splendor: The Kimiko and John Powers Collection of Japanese Art is currently featured at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. The exhibition, which runs through September 23, presents eighty-five selections from the collection and highlights elaborate screens, narrative scroll paintings, and some of the earliest known examples of Buddhist art in Japan.
Marquand Books produced the 246-page catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. Designed by Zach Hooker, the catalogue presents more than eighty color illustrations of the selected works and includes an essay by Miyeko Murase that examines the importance of the objects presented in the exhibition.
photography by Jeremy Linden