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Hiram Powers May 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts, Museums.

Work of controversial mid-19th century sculptor will be at the Taft in Cincinnati

Hiram Powers (1805-1873) and his alabaster white nude “Greek Slave” were the talk of two continents in the mid-19th century. A major exhibition of Powers’ work, regrettably without the full figure “Greek Slave”, opens Friday at the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati. There are smaller variations of it on view, such as a bust, and there is literature explaining the astounding power of suggestion the artist brought to play in his gloss that persuaded a Victorian culture bundled into corsets and cravats to accept full female nudity as ideal and that allowed his American audiences to avoid virtually any comparison to the topic of American slavery.

greek_slave.jpg  This is a bust rendition of the more famous full-length Greek Slave  that made Powers’ fame in 1851

All in all, Powers’ self-marketing story is as interesting as his allegorical art. The exhibition includes information on the famous “Greek Slave” episode and artifacts from his influential techniques in plaster modeling and marble-cutting as well as a selection of wooden watch-works Powers crafted. Powers’ connection to Cincinnati and the Baum-Longworth-Sinton-Taft House, now the Taft Museum, is through Nicholas Longworth, an early patron who helped the artist get to Washington, D.C., and then to Italy, from which he never returned.

“Hiram Powers: Genius in Marble” continues through August 12. The Museum at 316 Pike St., Cincinnati, is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, until 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7, $5 for seniors and students, free to all on Wednesday.

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