While her name might not be as famous as Lilly Pulitzer‘s, artist Suzie Zuzek was as integral to the brand’s success as its founder—and this spring, Christie’s is paying tribute to her legacy with an exhibition and online sale of her work.
For those unfamiliar with her, Zuzek was the Pratt-educated artist who served as the head designer for Key West Hand Print Fabrics between 1962 and 1985. As the story goes, Mrs. Pulitzer herself walked into the shop barefoot and ordered 300 yards of print by Zuzek; by the time she got home, she’d changed her mind, telephoning the shop to update her order to three thousand yards instead. It was the start of an iconic fashion relationship.
Zuzek would create over 1500 prints in her lifetime, many of which featured classic Florida motifs, like local flora and fauna. Her work was rediscovered in part by Becky Smith, who met with Zuzek and her daughter on a trip to Key West in 2007. Since then, Smith and a group of investors worked to purchase both the art and the copyrights of Key West Hand Print Fabrics, building an incredible archive of Zuzek’s work. Now, the archive is sharing a selection of these prints with Christie’s in hopes of bringing Zuzek more recognition.
“We are partnering with Christie’s to continue to bring awareness to Suzie Zuzek — both as an artist’s brand with a heartfelt story and to view her designs in a new way. We want to breathe new life into them, restoring these storied Zuzek paintings into the minds and hearts of the millions who might already recognize them and to future generations who are just learning this fascinating origin story,” Smith says. “Our hope is for everyone to know and love Suzie. Zuzek was a true artist, she saw the beauty in everything. We want to celebrate her as a consequential figure in American culture.”
Christie’s will offer 43 of these prints in an online sale, “Suzie Zuzek: The Artist Behind Lilly Pulitzer,” which will run from March 31 to April 17. In exciting news for Palm Beach locals, Christie’s will be hosting an exhibition of Zuzek’s prints from March 24 to April 6 at its Worth Avenue location, marking the auction house’s last exhibition in Palm Beach for the season. Whether you’re a fan of Lilly Pulitzer or a collector of contemporary artists, this is a can’t-miss event.