From ceramics to sculpture, drawings to furniture, the art and designs of Peter Shire never bow to convention. Whimsical and unexpected, his creations have delighted collectors since the early days of his career as a member of the Memphis Group, an Italian design collective exhibiting in the 1980s, of which Shire was the only American member. We’re pleased to offer a collection of Shire’s furniture and sculpture in our upcoming 20th Century Design auction, taking place on November 18 in Dallas. A principle highlight is his iconic Bone Air Chair, estimated at $4,000-6,000.
Bone Air Chair, 1985 Memphis
Lacquered wood, wool upholstery over foam
The Peter Shire session will also feature a number of pieces from the collection of Dr. Charles and Sharon Trauring of Brookline, MA, including a custom variation on one of Shire’s most popular designs – the Big Sur sofa. This version is edged with wooden “teeth” as a nod to Dr. Trauring’s profession as a dentist. Speaking of the piece in an interview for the Boston Globe, Shire replied, “…when he asked me how to clean it, I told him, just floss.” The sofa is estimated at $7,000-10,000
Fans of the Big Sur design include none other than David Bowie. The musician’s extensive collection of Memphis Group furniture and décor, including an example of the sofa, will be sold by Sotheby’s on November 11. The Trauring collection also includes several other custom Shire designs: a dining set, coffee table, and two fireplace surrounds
Custom Seven-Piece Dinette Set, 1986. Enameled and chromed steel, brass, glass, suede, vinyl
Custom Fire Place Surround, 1986
Painted particle board and steel, brass
Shire’s fire place surround – a hodgepodge of painted particle board, steel and brass has a familiar feel to some of his most well-known work: in a decades-long fascination with the teapot, the artist has explored the form in many versions, from something bordering on conventional to highly abstracted:
Sold for $2,750 at Bonhams in September 2014
Sold for $3,750 at Clark’s Fine Art Gallery & Auctioneers Inc. in June 2016
If the foregoing are any indication, Peter Shire has never stopped looking for opportunities to art-ify the world. Indeed, earlier this year he collaborated with Vogue in the elevation of drugstore beauty products into pieces of abstract sculpture, painting shampoo bottles and nail polish in a rainbow of colors and covering them with paper shapes, and nesting a bottle of Chanel No. 5 among scraps of glazed pottery. For those who know Shire’s work, the results looked pretty familiar, right at home among the playful ceramics and eccentric art objects that crowd his Echo Park, CA studio.
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