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Press Room


Andrea Zittel Wins the 2005 Lucelia Artist Award

Media only: Laura Baptiste (202) 275-1595

The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced today (April 27) that Andrea Zittel is the fifth annual winner of its Lucelia Artist Award, established by the museum in 2001 to encourage leading contemporary American artists. This award is part of the museum's commitment to contemporary art and artists through awards and acquisitions.

An independent panel of jurors chose Zittel for the award in recognition of her ability to "create objects and total settings that reconsider the relationships between art and life. A utopian yet rigorously formal sensibility dominates."

"The timing of the Smithsonian American Art Museum couldn't have been better," said Zittel. "I have been working on a number of new ideas recently and the Lucelia Artist Award will really help me continue with the projects."

"Andrea Zittel has shown a sustained commitment to distinctive work that challenges conventional thinking and expectations about the nature of art, which is exactly what the Lucelia Artist Award is intended to celebrate and support," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's Margaret and Terry Stent Director.

The jurors continue in their statement, "Zittel's art is shaped by a serial-based comprehensiveness in which discrete works are part of ongoing experiments and the continuous development of ideas. An investigatory attitude prevails. Her practice embraces the recycling of materials and large-scale, public-art projects as much as the creation of custom-made objects and an extreme attention to personal, particularizing details. She has become a leading figure in the international art world and a strong influence on generations of artists worldwide."

The five jurors who selected the winner were Richard Artschwager, artist; Klaus Biesenbach, chief curator, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and curator, department of film and video, Museum of Modern Art; Ann Goldstein, senior curator, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Paul Ha, director, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; and Katy Siegel, author, critic and assistant professor of contemporary art history and criticism at Hunter College, CUNY. Sidra Stich is the Lucelia Artist Award executive director and director of "art·SITES," a series of contemporary art, architecture and design handbooks.

"I have been using the arena of my life and day-to-day activities as a site for exploration and experimentation," said Zittel. "By using myself as a guinea pig I often use my own experiences to try to construct an understanding of the world at large. One of the most important goals of this work is to 'illuminate' how we attribute significance to chosen structures or ways of life, and how arbitrary any choice of structure can be. I do not mean to deny how oddly meaningful these structures can be. Instead, I use my work in order to try to comprehend values such as 'freedom,' 'security,' 'authority' and 'expertise.' I am interested in how qualities which we feel are totally concrete and rational are really subjective, arbitrary or invented. Since I think that 'Art' is often seen as an area of expertise, a field requiring a vast body of knowledge in order to understand, I hope that my work ultimately bridges the most basic human concerns with those of contemporary artistic concerns."

Zittel was born in Escondido, Calif., in 1965. In 1988, she received a bachelor of fine arts degree from San Diego State University, and went on to earn a master of fine arts degree in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1990.

Since the early 1990s, Zittel has been developing her designs for living. She formed a corporate entity A-Z Administrative Services in 1992 to facilitate the production of her furniture and her cellular and housing unit designs. In 1994, she opened A-Z East in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y., as a place where her A-Z Enterprise designs could be tested and evolve. At this same time Zittel began custom work, collaborating with her clients. Zittel also began creating larger scale works in public spaces.

Zittel's sculptures and installations have been shown widely in the United States and Europe, particularly in Germany and the United Kingdom. She received the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award in 1996. In 1999, she had two large scale works on view: "A-Z Pocket Property," a 54-ton floating concrete island anchored off the coast of Denmark that was commissioned by the Danish government and "A-Z Point of Interest," two large artificial rock formations located at a busy entrance to Central Park that was commissioned by the Public Art Fund.

In 2000, she moved most of her experiments in designs for living to A-Z Enterprise West in Joshua Tree, Calif. Zittel also co-organizes "High Desert Test Sites," an ongoing project that provides free space for artists interested in creating long-term or experimental projects in the desert. Zittel's work was included in the 2004 "Biennial Exhibition" at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Her most recent solo exhibition, titled "Western Evolutions," was held at Regen Projects in Los Angeles this past January. This May, an exhibition of Zittel's work, titled "A-Z Advanced Technologies," opens at the Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York City; and this October, a major touring exhibition of her work, titled "Andrea Zittel: Critical Space," opens at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Zittel currently divides her time between Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, Calif. Andrea Rosen Gallery and Regen Projects represent Zittel.

The Lucelia Artist Award annually recognizes an American artist under the age of 50 who demonstrates exceptional creativity and has produced a significant body of artwork that is considered emblematic of this period in contemporary art. Jurors nominate artists who will be recognized as one of the most important artists of his or her time. The $25,000 award is intended to encourage the artist's future development and experimentation. Previous winners have been Kara Walker (2004), Rirkrit Tiravanija (2003), Liz Larner (2002) and Jorge Pardo (2001).

The award winner is determined each year by a panel of five distinguished jurors selected from across the United States, each with an extensive knowledge of contemporary American art. Jurors nominate artists to be considered for the award; there is no application. The 2005 nominees were Doug Aitken, Matthew Barney, Andrea Fraser, Tom Friedman, Ellen Gallagher, Roni Horn, Byron Kim, Maya Lin, Jennifer Pastor, William Pope.L, Fabian Marcaccio, James Siena, Catherine Sullivan, Lisa Yuskavage and Andrea Zittel.

The New York-based Lucelia Foundation, which funds the award, supports the visual arts, specifically 19th-century American and contemporary art.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important American art holdings, with approximately 40,000 artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries. The museum's historic main building, located at 8th and F Streets NW, is currently under renovation. The museum will reopen in July 2006.

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Note to Editors: A juror statement, the winner's curriculum vitae, and an illustrated caption sheet are available. Information on past winners is available in the museum's online press room at Selected high-resolution images for publicity only may be downloaded from Call (202) 275-1594 for the password.