LSU Visual Arts Venues Come Together to Present Retrospective Highlighting Works by Artist, Designer Peter Shire

01/09/2013 11:54 AM

BATON ROUGE – 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 Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery and the LSU Student Union Art Gallery – working with the LSU College of Art & Design and the Department of Interior Design – will each hold respective exhibits as part of a program which 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 Jan. 31 through April 14.


Shire was recently awarded the 2013 Nadine Carter Russell Endowed Chair, a rotating residency within the LSU College of Art & Design. The School of Interior Design will host this prestigious position, selecting Shire as their recipient. Shire will deliver a lecture on Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Room 103 of the LSU Design Building, as part of the LSU College of Art & Design’s Distinguished Lecture Series. The lecture begins at 5:25 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.


“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 working on 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 famous Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and was a member of the 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, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and many more.


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 unique.”


Shire’s works transcend the boundaries of tradition 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.”


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 its Peter Shire exhibit, titled “Practically Absurd: Art & Design by Peter Shire,” from Jan. 31-April 14. The display presents four iconic works from the artist’s time with the Memphis group, including the “Anchorage” teapot (1983), “Obelisk” armoire (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- 2009.


The exhibition will also feature Shire’s innovative “Bel Air” chair (1981). Although it is recognizably Memphis in style, the chair 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, Calif. 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, workshops and interactive school tours for all ages designed to further explore the exhibition. These include a “Gallery Talk” event with Shire on Sunday, March 10, at 2 p.m. The event, where Shire will tour the gallery and discuss his works on display, is free with museum admission. 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 Jan.31-March 24 – will include seven sculptures from Shire’s Hokkaido series, 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 pieces.


A joint opening reception for the LSU Museum of Art and Glassell Gallery exhibits will be held on Thursday, Jan. 31, from 6-8 p.m. in 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 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, Feb. 3 from 2-4 p.m. The Union Art Gallery’s exhibit will be on display February 3-24.


A full-color catalogue, “L.A. to LA: Peter Shire at LSU,” accompanies the three-part retrospective. The catalogue was underwritten, in part, by Lamar Advertising Company and Nadine Carter-Russell, as well as the LSU Student Union Art Gallery, LSU School of Art, LSU Graphic Design Student Organization and the LSU Museum of Art. “L.A. to LA: Peter Shire at LSU” will be available for purchase at all three locations during the exhibitions, and will also be distributed nationally through LSU Press.


About the LSU Museum of Art
The LSU Museum of Art seeks to enrich and inspire through collections, exhibitions, conservation and education, serving as a cultural and intellectual resource for LSU, Baton Rouge and beyond. The museum represents one of the largest university-affiliated art collections in the South and serves as a vital anchor for the Arts District in downtown Baton Rouge. The museum’s location in the Shaw Center for the Arts provides a world-class facility in which to present a diverse range of exhibitions and educational programs. The museum also offers a high-profile venue for rental events, as well as a museum store featuring work by local artisans. The museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. For more information, contact Renee B. Payton, marketing director, at 225-389-7206, email, visit or follow the LSU Museum of Art on both Facebook and Twitter.


About the Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery
The LSU School of Art Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery is an ultra-contemporary venue that brings artwork of the highest caliber to the Baton Rouge community and welcomes its audience of more than viewers, but rather active participants. The gallery is the “window to our world” which affords an exciting setting for reaching out to the local and regional community and to allow visitors to see inside the LSU School of Art. The gallery is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from noon - 5 p.m. For more information, call 225-389-7180, email or visit


About the LSU Student Union Art Gallery
The LSU Student Union Art Gallery is a valuable campus and community art resource, showcasing annual rotating exhibits including national traveling exhibits, curated exhibits from public and private collections and national, statewide and student art competitions. Hours of operation are Monday- Friday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. The gallery is open on Saturdays only before home football games and major theater events. Admission is free to the public. Metered parking is available at the LSU Visitor’s Center as well as in front of the LSU Student Union. Non-metered parking is free on campus after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends and holidays, while metered parking is free after 10 p.m. Spaces can usually be found either in front of the Union or in the adjacent Coates Hall parking lot. Public parking will also be available at the new Bookstore Parking Garage, located behind the new Union Square Bookstore, upon completion. For more information, contact the gallery at 225-578-5162, email or visit the LSU Student Union website at and click on “Art Gallery.”

Aaron  Looney 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Wednesday, January 9, 2013