Peter Shire: On Color
Peter Shire’s work is laced with color; bright hues and bold contrasts are essential elements in all of his sculpture. I’ve noted before that Peter’s large-scale sculptures are currently on view in West Hollywood. But they can also be seen in Elysian Park, and his work is prominent in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Today’s LACMA blog, Unframed, has a wonderful post about Shire’s work.
Jayme Odgers, a fellow artist and designer, thinks that the Shire’s experiences in Italy had a dramatic effect on the sculpture and the color. He says, “My sense is his contact with Sottsass Associati broke Peter wide open. As we know, Americans tend to have a more restrictive attitude toward artists/designers while the Europeans have an expansive viewpoint. European artists/designers are ‘allowed’ to paint, sculpt, design showrooms, furniture, fabrics, wall coverings, work in glassware, or whatever they deem necessary to fulfill their creative wishes. Once Peter got involved with Ettore Sottsass, Aldo Cibic, Marco Zanini and their peers he embraced their expansive viewpoint and enlarged his worldview exponentially to include sculpture, furniture and beyond.”
My own perception of the color includes the key that the peach is Peter’s favorite fruit. On the peach, yellow transitions to a rosy red, with the leaves as a green accent. We had a conversation about color:
Frank: Where does the color come from?
Peter: People always say, oh, you live in a Mexican neighborhood; the sort of Caribbean colors, Mexican colors, and that’s always served well for press purposes, and sounds good.
Frank: Is there another story?
Peter: My Dad was trained as an artist, and actually graduated as an illustrator. He was a natural illustrator, a natural draftsman. He graduated in 1932 from Pratt. My Dad went to art school, and he studied a thing called the Munsell color wheel, and he had all these diagrams. He was a very academic guy, a very diligent guy. And so when they painted our house, he and the architect selected the colors, and actually most of the colors, these really outré colors, came, first, there. And they built a modernist house, redwood with turquoise trim. The kitchen was grey, whitish chartreuse, salmon on the cabinets-on the lowers-a pea-green counter, Formica counter, and it sort of went off that way, with these other colors. My room was salmon, and my brother’s was a sort of Cerulean blue. And I think the redwood and the turquoise with the chartreuse thrown into the kitchen, the rest of it was wood, and the floors were asphalt and a kind of maroon.