ANDREA ZITTEL A-Z Personal Uniforms: Third Decade
6750 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90038
A-Z Personal Uniforms is one of Zittel’s longest standing experiments. She began the project in 1991 to liberate herself from the need to make choices about what to wear by voluntarily adhering to a set of constraints. Each uniform is worn exclusively throughout the season for which it is made. When Zittel initiated the project, she designed her uniforms for a two-season year (spring/summer and fall/winter). However, after relocating from New York City to California’s High Desert in 2000, she began making uniforms for each three-month season to comply with the region’s greater variations in weather. Zittel has produced three complete collections of uniforms grouped by the decade in which they were made and worn: 1991–2003, 2003–2013, and 2013–2023. The first decade is in the collection of the Schaulager, Münchenstein.
Zittel observes that while these garments are both beautiful and functional, “they also question our associations of freedom or personal liberation with the market demand for constant variety. The uniform project proposes that liberation may in fact be possible through the creation of a set of personal restrictions or limitations.” For this exhibition, A-Z Personal Uniforms: Third Decade is shown on a grid of dress forms, allowing visitors to circumnavigate and pass between them. A selection of the artist’s recent works in watercolor and gouache on paper are presented on the surrounding walls.
Each decade of A-Z Personal Uniforms has engendered its own technical and conceptual evolutions. Although Zittel carried over crocheting and hand weaving techniques from previous decades, the third decade is defined by an increasingly restricted palette. Many of the garments presented here evolved from a single long skirt pattern that Zittel drafted from a leather second-hand skirt. The leather skirt was itself incorporated into the very first uniform of the third decade.
Over the past 35 years, Zittel’s oeuvre has encompassed sculpture, drawing, installation, design, and textiles. From the beginning, she has used the “arena of [her] day-to-day life to develop and test prototypes for living structures and situations.” Her practice is one in which spaces, objects, and the artist’s actions intertwine to investigate alternative modes of social and cultural participation. A-Z Personal Uniforms is one ongoing experiment in an ever-evolving series of interventions that powerfully “illuminate how we attribute significance to chosen structures or ways of life, and how arbitrary any choice of structure can be.” Multiple discrete projects by Zittel have coalesced into “single cohesive living situations” that include A-Z West, the artist’s “live/work residence,” and High Desert Test Sites, a nonprofit arts organization she co-founded near Joshua Tree, CA, in 2002.
Andrea Zittel (b. 1965, Escondido, CA) received a BFA 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. She lives and works in Joshua Tree, CA.
Zittel has been the subject of solo exhibitions worldwide: Personal Patterns, Kunstmuseen Krefeld (2022–2023); An Institute of Investigative Living, Miller Institute for Contemporary Art, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh (2020); The Flat Field Works, Middelheim Museum, Antwerp (2015); Lay of My Land, Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art, Stockholm (2011); Between Art and Life, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti, Florence (2010); Andrea Zittel, Monika Sosnowska 1:1, Schaulager, Basel (2008); Small Liberties, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); Critical Space, The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; traveled to New Museum, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Vancouver Art Gallery, British Columbia (2005–2007); Personal Programs, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (1999–2000); Living Units, Museum fur Gegenwartskunst, Basel (1996–1997); The A-Z Travel Trailer Units, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (1996); New Work: Andrea Zittel, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1995–1996); and Three Living Systems, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (1994).
Her work has been presented in numerous group exhibitions: Istanbul Biennial (2019); Whitney Biennial (2004, 1995); documenta (1997); Skulptur Projekte Münster (1997); and Venice Biennale (1995, 1993); among others.
Work by Zittel is included in museum collections including the Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung, Münchenstein; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Jumex Collection, Mexico City; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Sammlung Goetz, Munich; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate Modern, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.