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Peter Shire: Tea for Two Hundred

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Peter Shire: Tea for Two Hundred is an exhibition of giant teapots by the well-known Los Angeles artist Peter Shire, and showcases the artist’s career-long exploration with the teapot as form.


Tea for Two Hundred highlights eight large-scale teapots, ranging in height from two to six feet tall. These imaginative objects, made of clay, metal, wood, and found materials, are some of Shire’s most inventive works. They will be installed in a whimsical landscape – sparking the imagination with a playful dialog between the viewers’ bodies and the teapots.   


The teapot, an iconic form in the artist’s work, characterizes Shire’s spirited aesthetic and distinctive style. Throughout his career, he has continually reinvented the object, using it as an armature to experiment with material, scale, and function. Shire’s teapots resist categorization and are charming, unwieldy, and fitful in their usefulness and uselessness. The artist’s singular style encompasses both international and local perspectives, with roots in the Milan-based Memphis group combined with the multitude of influences he has absorbed from living and working in Los Angeles.


Shire was a friend and peer of Miriam Wosk, whose first museum survey, Abundance and Devotion, is on view concurrently in SMMoA’s Main Gallery. Shire’s work is in Wosk’s collection, and one of the extraordinary teapots she owned will be included in Tea for Two Hundred. The parallel presentation of the two artists’ work speaks to the inspiration and local community they shared working in the realms of art and design.


Tea for Two Hundred is organized by Elsa Longhauser, executive director of the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

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