Andrea Zittel

Andrea Zittel was born in Escondido, California, in 1965. She received a BFA in painting and sculpture in 1988 from San Diego State University, and an MFA in sculpture in 1990 from the Rhode Island School of Design. Zittel’s sculptures and installations transform everything necessary for life—such as eating, sleeping, bathing, and socializing—into artful experiments in living.

Blurring the lines between life and art, Zittel’s projects extend to her own home and wardrobe. Wearing a single outfit every day for an entire season, and constantly remodeling her home to suit changing demands and interests, Zittel continually reinvents her relationship to her domestic and social environment. Influenced by Modernist design and architecture from the early twentieth century, the artist’s one-woman mock organization, A–Z Administrative Services, develops furniture, homes, and vehicles for contemporary consumers with a similar simplicity and attention to order.

Seeking to attain a sense of freedom through structure, Zittel is more interested in revealing the human need for order than in prescribing a single unifying design principle or style. “People say my work is all about control, but it’s not, really,” she remarks. “I am always looking for the gray area between freedom—which can sometimes feel too open-ended and vast—and security—which may easily turn into confinement.” Her “A–Z Pocket Property,” a forty-four-ton floating fantasy island off the coast of Denmark, commissioned by the Danish government, contrasts the extremes of a creative escape with the isolation that occurs when a person is removed from society.

Altering and examining aspects of life that are for the most part taken for granted, Zittel makes hand-crafted solutions that respond to the day-to-day rhythms of the body, and the creative need of people to match their surroundings to the changing appearance of life. Zittel lives in California and New York.

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Andrea Zittel talks about her environment and the kinds of designs that influence her work.


“Pocket Property”

Andrea Zittel discusses her 1999 installation A-Z Pocket Property, a 44-ton floating concrete island anchored off the coast of Denmark, on which the artist lived for one month as an experiment in escapism and isolation.