Andrea Zittel: Fluid Panel State
Andrea Rosen Gallery
September 14 – October 27, 2012
Andrea Zittel: Fluid Panel State on view at the Andrea Rosen Gallery expands upon the artist’s career-long exploration of art as a needed utility. Zittel creates art that is visual but fills a need, growing from the relationship between objects that provide both food, sustenance and shelter. In 1991 the artist began using herself as an index of social critique and created clothing that she referred to as “uniforms.” Eventually she transformed her Williamsburg apartment into a site called A-Z East. The function of this location was to gather friends and neighbors who would become part of a larger sociological critique that measured the relationship between the interaction with fine art and daily living. Within the two levels of this architectural space called A-Z East, Zittel transformed the front room into the “Personal Presentation Room,” and the bedroom into the “Comfort Room.” From 1992 to 1995 the artist created A-Z Living Units. By 2000 she opened another studio-laboratory space titled A-Z West that was located near the Joshua Tree National Park in California. Fluid Panel State presents tapestries, covers and paintings that reveal what Andrea Zittel is focusing on today, namely the multi-purpose use of textile coverings combined with abstract sequencing.
The exhibition opens with three pieces titled A-Z Sleep Sack Panel that are hung high on the gallery wall. Their dark billowy shapes are offset by a larger, multi-color nylon carpet that extends across the gallery’s main floor titled, A-Z Carpet Furniture: Cabin. Rustic colors such as red, yellow, brown, blue and black underscore most of Zittel’s new work, keeping each piece close to the notion of the mundane, everyday that is flavored with the ways in which one uses objects at hand. Architecture continues to be a significant framework for Zittel. Squares of color layer as if in homage to Josef Albers. However the artist’s use of contrasting colors reveals her own suggestion of tangible space while investing her ideas within the limited context of flat surfaces. A-Z Cover Series 2 (Rust and Gold Geometric) consists of five different wool tapestries that collectively reflect an evolving pattern.
A-Z Personal Panels are textiles that are for individual use such as clothing or covering. Zittel’s multi-purpose fashions were previously exhibited in a show titled Andrea Zittel Smockshop that appeared at the Susan Inglett Gallery in 2007. The clothing sold by the artist was not intended for conspicuous consumption. Instead the artist requested that each buyer wear one of her outfits for an entire year. By drawing upon her previous work in A-Z West, Zittel challenged viewers to task themselves with usefulness. However in Fluid Panel State, the artist presents flat pieces of clothing that doubles as a wall tapestry or covering. The installation of Nine A-Z Cover Series 1 (Gold and Black Stripes) appears in the back room of the gallery, a fragmented ziggurat that lines and extends from the wall, making the woven texture a mobile physical presence within the exhibition space.
Andrea Zittel leaves this exhibition punctuated with an array of comparably small-scale gouache paintings that appear to be studies for the larger fabric pieces. Studio Table with Cover as well as Patrick and Lani low Cover shape both portray the different uses that the artist envisions for this new collection of textiles. Two additional pieces titled Patrick, Lani and Lucas under Cover and Tatiana with Cover capture a painted demonstration of her work. The artist also includes Dynamic Essay about the Panel, a power point presentation that appears on a flat-screen monitor, which elaborates on the flat plane as a both an extension and fragment of architecture.
The work of Andrea Zittel has consistently channeled the ideas of the Bauhaus in addition to specific architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Erik Gunnar Asplund, whose most memorable buildings contained their own designs throughout the interiors as well. Zittel’s work also grows from Land Art that flourished across America during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson, Donald Judd and Walter deMaria took sculpture beyond the confines of the gallery out into the heart of the Midwest. Zittel, on the other hand, does not attempt to insert large-scale designs within the landscape. Instead she continues to combine art with utility and usability, positioning her work as a series of multipurpose, interactive objects that are both sculptural and painterly.
Jill Conner is an art critic and curator based in New York City. She is currently the New York Editor for Whitehot Magazine and writes for other publications such as Afterimage, ArtUS, Sculpture and Art in America.
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