Retrospective of Works by Visiting Artist, Designer Peter Shire

For the first time ever, a trio of LSU’s art galleries will join forces to present a three-part retrospective featuring the works of internationally renowned artist and designer Peter Shire.

The LSU Museum of Art, the LSU School of Art’s Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery, and the LSU Student Union Art Gallery, working with the LSU College of Art & Design and the School of Interior Design, will each hold respective exhibits as part of a program that presents an overall, in-depth study of Shire’s work over the past four decades.

The entire retrospective is set to run at various lengths between the three venues from January 31 through April 14, 2013.

“An exhibition of Shire’s remarkable oeuvre has been long overdue,” said LSU Museum of Art Executive Director Jordana Pomeroy. “We are excited to begin a new era of campus-wide collaborative projects among LSU’s art venues.”

Around the house

Born in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles, where he currently lives and works, Shire is a graduate of the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and was a member of the Milan-based Memphis Group. He has had more than 100 solo exhibitions nationally. His work can be found in more than 35 museums worldwide including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Israel Museum. He has completed more than 25 public art works including the North Hollywood Gateway and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Shire revolutionized the design of household objects, striving to confront issues of modernity while examining the practical needs of society. The artist’s playful attitudes towards life translate well into his bold, colorful chairs, tables, and other functional household constructions.

“For the past 30 years, Peter Shire has created furniture bursting with unconventional funkiness and vessels with eccentric personalities,” said LSU Museum of Art Curator Natalie Mault. “His works are one of a kind in terms of style and production. Each work is as unique and quirky as the artist himself. They begin as a series of conceptual sketches, some of which will be on display in the exhibit. These sketches lead to a final rendering. After materials are purchased, cut, and welded, the item is finished with an application of special automotive-style paint and assembled with unique hardware, making each piece of furniture different from the other.”

Shire’s works transcend the boundaries of traditional design. His teapots, for example, meld the usefulness of the traditional object with a uselessness of unusual shape and complex form. Several of his famous teapots will be on display during the retrospective, including Giant Torso (1990), a large, metal teapot that looks more like industrial machinery than a piece of kitchenware.

“Shire’s work evokes historical dialogues about form versus function,” Pomeroy explained. “By revolutionizing the design of household objects, Shire strives to confront the issues of modernity. A teapot is not just a teapot when it becomes an aesthetic object that challenges its core function as a vessel for hot water.”

Shire was recently awarded the 2012-13 Nadine Carter Russell Chair, a rotating residency within the LSU College of Art & Design. The School of Interior Design is hosting this prestigious position and selected Shire as the recipient. Shire will deliver a lecture on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, in Room 103 of the LSU Design Building as part of the LSU College of Art & Design’s Paula G. Manship Lecture Series. The lecture begins at 5 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Design on display

The LSU Museum of Art–located on the fifth floor of the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette Street, in downtown Baton Rouge–will host an exhibit, Practically Absurd: Art & Design by Peter Shire, January 31-April 14, 2013. The exhibit presents four iconic works from the artist’s time with the Memphis group, including the Anchorage teapot (1983), Obelisk armoire (1981), Bel Air chair (1981), and Cahuenga lamp (1985); six quirky chairs; four geometrical, ceramic teapots, and three giant teapots; two whimsical lamps and tables; three decorative laminate tables and bookcases; one flamboyant rug; two unique purses; one hanging, steel cherub; a dozen artist sketches; and a selection of unusual silverware, produced from 1980 to 2009.

Shire’s innovative Bel Air chair (1981) was heavily influenced by Los Angeles culture. The chair’s shape was inspired by a beach ball, and the back is reminiscent of a shark fin or beach wave. Even the title was taken from the five-star luxury hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The Bel Air chair is Shire’s most significant contribution to the Memphis design group and became an iconic symbol for the group.

The LSU Museum of Art will also present a series of exciting educational programs including lectures, gallery talks, workshops, and interactive school tours for all ages designed to further explore the exhibition. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Coordinator of School and Community Programs Lucy Perera at 225-389-7207 or email

Located on the first floor of the Shaw Center for the Arts, the Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery’s Peter Shire exhibit is titled Serious Fun: Works by Peter Shire. The exhibition–on display January 31-March 24, 2013–will include seven sculptures by Shire, including The Palace at 4 a.m. (1993) and Gaijin (1993), as well as four of Shire’s unique teapots and 20 prints of Shire’s pieces.

A joint opening reception for the LSU Museum of Art and Glassell Gallery exhibits will be held on Thursday, January 31, 2013, from 6-8 p.m. at the Shaw Center for the Arts.

The Union Art Gallery, located on the second floor of the recently renovated LSU Student Union, will present its Peter Shire exhibit, titled Peter Shire: A World of Geometrics.

This exhibition will explore the many talents of the renowned and idiosyncratic designer. Shire’s whimsical, postmodern style defies traditional categorization, incorporating elements of futurism, art nouveau, and art deco. His often utilitarian sculptures have been exhibited in the United States as well as Italy, France, and Japan. Shire will also be on hand to give an informal tour of the exhibit during an opening reception on Sunday, February 3, 2013, from 2-4 p.m. The Union Art Gallery’s exhibit will be on display February 3-24, 2013.

A full-color catalog, L.A. to LA: Peter Shire at LSU, accompanies the three-part retrospective. The catalog, with a introductory essay by art history professor Darius Spieth, was underwritten, in part, by Lamar Advertising Company and Nadine Carter Russell, as well as LSU Union Gallery, LSU School of Art, LSU Graphic Design Student Office, and LSU Museum of Art. L.A. to LA: Peter Shire at LSU is available at the LSU Museum Store on the first floor of the Shaw Center for the Arts and online at

Contact Aaron Looney, LSU Media Relations