In 1974, Peter Shire set out to accomplish a seemingly nonsensical goal: that of creating a three-dimensional teapot. Having recently graduated from art school with a degree in ceramics, he was of course aware of the longstanding tradition of teapots having not only height and width but depth as well; an enclosed volume is, after all, a necessary precondition for containing the hot liquid from which these vessels take their name. But Shire was referring not so much to the form of the container, per se, as to the processes through which it was conceived and produced.
Most ceramic teapots are thrown on a wheel, which means that they are essentially a single curve rotated 360 degrees to produce a three-dimensional shape. In other words, their entire form can easily be captured in a simple contour drawing, and they can be designed in profile rather than truly in the round. Shire was
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.