The Ideal Object: Hiram Powers (1848) and Andy Warhol (1964)

1 February - 15 March 1997

New York



Peter Freeman at A/D Gallery presents the exhibition:

"The Ideal Object: Hiram Powers (1848) and Andy Warhol (1964)"

exhibition dates: 1 February through 15 March, 1997

Hiram Powers, living in Florence from 1837 until his death in 1873, was the greatest American neo-classical sculptor. Andy Warhol's work a century later defined Pop Art. Several examples of Powers's "Ideal" busts dating from the 1840s--life-sized, neo-classical sculptures in white marble of an extraordinary aloof purity--will be installed side by side with examples of various 1964 "boxes" by Andy Warhol--also life-sized sculptures--renditions of supermarket cartons of Brillo, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Campbell's Tomato Juice, etc. These were the only sculptures that Warhol ever made, and have become famous Pop icons since first being shown in New York in 1964.

While at first dissimilar, the work of both artists exemplifies a striving to make an ideal representation of a form, that form itself an ideal representation of a culture at that particular moment. Both, too, were produced by each artist's studio in multiple quantities: Powers used assistants to carve works as they were ordered by patrons making one of the obligatory stops on the "grand tour"; and Warhol produced numerous examples in his studio, "the factory".

The Ideal sculptures of Hiram Powers were one of the great achievements in American art of the 19th century. Powers brought the neo-classical ideal to its greatest height, making symbolic portraits of sublime grace, aesthetic purity, and serene stillness. His most famous work, the Greek Slave, was arguably the most important American sculpture made up until that time (1841-43), and was the most popular exhibit in the 1851 Great Exhibition in London. (Examples of the full-figure Greek Slave are in the Brooklyn, Yale, Corcoran, and Newark museums.) The Ideal busts were made by the artist to satisfy the demand by collectors for smaller works, and they made Powers one of the most successful artists of his day. While his sculpture is tremendously important, it is only now being rediscovered after a long period of neglect.

The 1964 "boxes" by Warhol were his only sculptures, though they were made using the same silkscreen method as his paintings, only onto painted wood rather than canvas. Though initially exhibited in great number--stacks of boxes, roomfuls of boxes--they are now mostly seen only in single examples. This exhibition will be a rare opportunity to see many together.

The exhibition will also include the only known pair of Ideal busts by Hiram Powers to remain together, and in private hands.