|Field||Installation art, Social Practice, Contemporary Artist|
Born in Escondido, California, in 1965, Zittel graduated from San Pasqual High School in 1983. Zittel received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and sculpture from San Diego State University in 1988, and an MFA in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1990.
In the early 1990s, Andrea Zittel began making art in response to her own surroundings and daily routines, creating functional objects that fulfilled the artist’s needs relating to shelter, food, furniture, and clothing. She produced her first “Living Unit”--an experimental structure intended to reduce everything necessary for living into a simple, compact system—as a means of facilitating basic activities within her 200-square-foot (19 m2) Brooklyn storefront apartment. In order to make customized “Living Units” and other usable artworks available to contemporary consumers, Zittel launched the one-woman corporation, A-Z Administrative Services. While some of her modernist-inspired products were designed with the intention of making daily routines easy and efficient, others, such as the pod-like “Escape Vehicles,” appealed to fantasies of isolating oneself from the outside world.
In 1999, the Public Art Fund commissioned Zittel to create a site-specific project for New York’s Central Park. Point of Interest, located at the southeast entrance to the park, comprised two giant, faux rocks—constructed from steel armatures covered in concrete—emerging from the ground. The installation served as a reminder that the park is a meticulously planned natural environment, while providing visitors with an alternative to the typical park bench. That same year Zittel created A-Z Pocket Property, a 44-ton floating concrete island anchored off the coast of Denmark, which was commissioned by the Danish government. The artist lived on the “fantasy island” for one month as an experiment in escapism and isolation.
By 2000, Zittel's ongoing project had been relocated from Brooklyn NY to a 25-acre (100,000 m2) parcel in the California desert. At “A-Z West” she continued an investigation into contemporary perceptions of freedom and personal liberation. The original pioneering spirit of the "frontier" considered autonomy and self-sufficiency as prerequisites of personal freedom. Zittel wanted to explore how perceptions of freedom have been re-adapted for contemporary living. It was her theory that personal liberation "is now achieved through individual attempts to slip between the cracks". Instead of building big ranches and permanent homesteads, today's independence seekers prefer small portable structures, which evade the regulatory control of bureaucratic restrictions such as building and safety codes. Much of her work reflects qualities that she feels create independence for the owner and user such as compactness, adaptability and transportability. Zittel found that despite moving to the desert to be alone, she ended up doing many social and public projects. At the core of the project, she found that she had always wanted to start a commune, but couldn't find others to join her until then. Zittel has been the focus of many critical studies in recent years, such as Anna Novakov's essay on her A-Z Travel Units.
Zittel was included in the 2004 and 2006 Whitney Biennial.
Zittel had solo exhibitions at the Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (1999), and her solo 1991-2005 career retrospective "Andrea Zittel: Critical Space" was exhibited at the following institutions: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2005), the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2006), The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo (2006), Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (2007), and the Vancouver Art Gallery (2007).
Zittel is also a co-organizer of a project called High Desert Test Sites along with Shaun Caley Regen, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Andy Stillpass and John Conelly. High Desert Test Sites are a series of experimental art sites located along a stretch of California desert communities including Pioneertown, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms and Wonder Valley. These sites provide alternative space for experimental works by both emerging and established artists.
In 2006, she was appointed to the faculty at the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. Since then she has continued to commute between the High Desert and Los Angeles. In 2007, her public project the "smockshop" was unveiled.
In 2005, she received the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Lucelia Artist Award. In 2012 she was awarded the Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts.
- Magdalene Perez (February 15, 2006), A Hippie at Heart: Andrea Zittel Talks about Her Wagons at the Whitney, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-05-19
- Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Andrea Zittel: Critical Space, retrieved 2009-01-03
- New Museum of Contemporary Art, Andrea Zittel: Critical Space, retrieved 2009-01-03
- Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Andrea Zittel: Critical Space, retrieved 2009-01-03
- Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Andrea Zittel: Critical Space, retrieved 2009-01-03
- Vancouver Art Gallery, Andrea Zittel: Critical Space, retrieved 2009-01-03
- Magasin 3 exhibition galleries organized by Andrea Zittel
- Official website
- Biography, interviews, essays, artwork images and video clips from PBS series Art:21 - Art in the 21st Century - Season 1 (2001).
- NY Times Review
- Interview: Andrea Zittel in conversation with Allan McCollum
- Review of Zittel exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery by Lisa Marshall in Fillip
- Andrea Zittel at Regen Projects
- Andrea Zittel at Sprüth Magers Berlin London