Andrea Zittel: Art & Design

Art21 produces the first of a two-part documentary on Andrea Zittel. In this first installation she talks about “living in art”.

Filmed for the web-only “Exclusive” series by Art21, this short documentary examines the relationship between art and design through artist Andrea Zittel’s eyes.

Filmed at her home A-Z West in Joshua Tree, California, Zittel's property is a place of experimentation where she investigates the distinction between art and design by constantly renovating her home and creating functional yet conceptually significant objects.

Every space that I’ve lived in I’ve turned into an art project and I think that everything in my house has really evolved with my life.

First aired in 2008, the “Exclusive” series presents art from an artist's unmediated perspective and gives an in-depth view into an artist’s creative process and the evolution it goes through.

Zittel’s home echoes the California desert around it. It is painted and tiled in mustard, yellow and gold colours with light wood finishes. And mounted on the walls are her functional and beautiful “Aggregated Stacks” which we watch being made with papier-mâché earlier in the documentary.

As “Exclusive” producer Ian Forster puts it: “It feels like a design laboratory where she is her own test subject. Many works that were later reproduced and shown in galleries and museums were first installed and tested in her home.” 

“Artists and designers have always looked to each other for inspiration and alternative perspectives, especially when it comes to how their work integrates into people's daily lives,” says Forster.

The barriers between art and design are blurring, Zittel believes: If an art historian 100 years from now had to talk about my generation, it would be almost impossible to talk about it in a significant cultural sense without touching on what was going on in design at the same time.

The documentary is strikingly quiet, undoubtedly intended to evoke the soundscape of the desert terrain. Zittel’s life in Joshua Tree appears to be caught between two time periods: on the one end she is a contemporary artist living in this interesting modernist house. On the other end it seems fitting to refer to her as a pioneer exploring the territory and a new way of life.