The first one-person exhibition in Ireland of the work of the Los Angeles-based artist Peter Shelton opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Friday 13 March. godspipes, a new monumental sculptural piece based on the human body, is also Shelton’s first solo museum show in Europe. Five years in the making, it comprises 193 translucent fibreglass and lead pipes resembling limbs, torsos and joints.
Peter Shelton is well known internationally for his iron, steel and fibreglass sculptures, which often replicate abstracted parts of the human body as well as elements of architecture. In fact, Shelton sees his body works as being an examination of human architecture – bones, intestines and blood vessels. An eager student of anatomy and biology at high school, Shelton spent some time as a pre-med student at Pomona College, Claremont, California, before transferring to the art department. His adopted home of Los Angeles provides another key to his work. “Here in LA without a strong cultural matrix, artists often look to their own body, their own immediate physical and sensuous environment to give them cues and forms for their work.” His experiences at art college at Pomona and UCLA were a further important influence. “After spending all this time in college when there was such a contempt for making things – this was during the first round of Conceptualism – I became very interested in making objects. I was interested in the idea of sculpture that could be pushed to the point where it could be physically challenging.”
Peter Shelton was born in Troy, Ohio, in 1951 and grew up in Tempe, Arizona. He graduated from Pomona College in 1973 and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from UCLA in 1979, where he had his first solo exhibition in the Wight Gallery in the same year. Since then his work has been shown widely throughout the US from a retrospective at the LA County Museum of Art to the Whitney Museum in New York and in Rome, Bologna, Paris and at the 1984 Venice Biennale. His most recent installation sixtyslippers, in which a field of 60 steel discs were suspended just above the floor was shown at the LA Louver Gallery in California. He is the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards,including the National Endowment for the Arts Artists’ Fellowship in 1980, ‘82 and ‘84 and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1989.
In addition he has recently been commissioned by the Henry Moore Sculpture Trust to create blackelephanthouse for the Henry Moore studio at Dean Clough, in Halifax where visitors may currently view work in progress and the installation will be on show as part of Art Transpennine 98 from 23 May – 16 August 1998.
A joint publication by the Trust and the Museum with an essay by US scholar and writer Christopher Knight, will accompany the exhibition.
godspipes is on show 13 March – 14 June 1998.