How to Tell the Difference Between Andersen Design Popular Art and Andy Warhol Pop Art

Both used production as an art form and started in the midcentury so how do you tell them apart?

How do you tell the difference between these two styles of popular art? photo of art object on the right by Girl with red hat on Unsplash, photo on the left by the author

How do you tell the difference between Andersen Design Popular Art and Andy Warhol’s Pop Art? Good Question! Let’s see if we can establish some distinctions!

First, there is the startup date. Andersen Design established its production as an art form in 1952 and Andy Warhol made Pop Art more famous using production as an art form in 1961 so Andersen Design was a forerunner of Warhol’s Pop Art. Even though Andy Warhol may have thought he never heard of Andersen Design, he was probably aware of the art production through the collective unconsciousness of mankind, whether he knew it or not, Andy Warhol was, after all, an antenna of human culture.

It starts with the Industrial Revolution.

Using production as an art form is a social response to the working conditions in the factories that proliferated as a result of the Industrial Revolution, In addition, according to America at Work, published by The Library of Congress “ social stratification began to emerge that made white-collar jobs seem more prestigious to many than blue-collar ones. Children of immigrants would aspire to such jobs to increase their social standing in a society that was often prejudiced against newcomers.”

Andy Warhol was the child of working-class immigrants in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, a city that “has long been known for the steel industry since the Gilded Age, thanks to industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and George Westinghouse. source”. Warhol started his career in the white-collar industry as a graphic designer in advertising.

Weston Neil Andersen was raised on a farm in Iowa where class distinctions were not so extreme as in a factory town like Pittsburg, although I have been told that my grandparents eloped on a motorcycle because Weston’s mother’s Scottish parents looked down on the Danish, but that is all I ever heard about it, from my Dad- who is Weston. My mother Brenda was from an English working-class background coming from a long line of craftsmen and was awarded a scholarship to attend an upper-class art school. Brenda, had her moments of playing the queen, which might be why some said visiting our house was like a scene from an Elizabethan novel. It was my norm.

Andy Warhol’s background gave him reason to have something to prove in the field of class warfare, while my parents’ background didn’t have such hard class edges and they chose to reject a life lived within the pretentious hierarchy. Selling art to the middle class was a lifestyle choice that allowed the young designers the cultural environs they preferred. The 1950s was a rare moment in human history when the greatest amount of wealth was distributed among the greatest number of people., which made it viable to sell to a middle market.

Andy Warhol appropriated popular images from magazines and marketed his work to the elite as post-modern art.

Andersen Design created new icons of popular art and sold them to the populace.

Seagulls by Andersen Design, Images by Mackenzie Andersen

Andy Warhol is more widely recognized than Andersen Design, speaking to the vast power of the elite, while Andersen’s Design’s lower-profile recognition speaks to the hidden power of the individual cognoscenti.

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The two examples in the featured image convey that the subject and conversation of the one on the left is culture while the subject and conversation of the one on the right is nature.

Both are using production as an art form. The reason why Andersen Design is using a production method is quite clear. It is because Andersen Design chose to make art that was affordable to the middle classes and ceramic slip-cast production makes it possible to do that. The reason why Andy Warhol chose a reproductive method for his art is not as obvious.

Reproductive art was not Warhol’s only medium but it is his most famous one, and the activity I have chosen for comparison. This is not an academic or personally researched comparison but a comparison made from the perspective of a cultural observer of an artist whose subject matter was culture, a case of the observer, observing the observer, which according the the quantum theorists, changes the observed. So let’s see what happens with that! It’s the way the process of discovery works. The observed is the world.

I am an observer from a social distance, as one of the common people observing the cultural meaning of Andy Warhol. I offer no further credentials than that, but as it is said, art is in the eyes of the beholder, which is where Warhol begins. He said, “Why not?” Why isn’t what I see all around me a subject of art?

What he saw around him was mass culture. which could be sold to the elite. The common people were not part of Warhol’s external drama but were encapsulated within the subject of Warhol’s art object creations, as mass culture and so the individualized common man is the outsider-observer of Any Warhol’s construct.

Pop Art appropriated pre-existing images of popular culture. Andersen Design created a new iconic brand of popular culture that appropriated forms of nature which is the unifying field that lies within every external manifestation including those created by mankind.

Andersen Design’s work was recognized as art by the common people who were the first to start referring, in an individualized way, to the products produced by the studio as art.

The support of the common people is the collective consequence of acts of individual self-sovereignty from within the populous without the intermedia of a governing board of any type or hype and so it is an act of individual freedom. Individualism is a quality with which the Andersen Design brand is associated.

The artistic technique of the art object on the left has a recognizable individual style but is devoid of individuality in its production process while the art object on the right also has an identifiable style but its production process is an expression of the individuality of the natural hand of the artisan who executes the pattern. The Andersens promoted their production art with the words “No two are alike”. They created their canvas from scratch which became a large body of ceramic forms, which can be reinterpreted endlessly. They created standard repeatable patterns and original glaze recipes designed to have fluid interactive qualities that are usually avoided by conventional commercial productions seeking predictability and consistency.

LizzWeez, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

If you know the backstory you know that the one on the right was produced in a loft called “the factory” that was anything but what one expects a factory to be. It was a scene where artists, hipsters, and transgenders met, forlorn heiresses found work, workers were elevated as superstars, celebrities were made into flavors of the product produced by the factory, and where drugs flowed.

The son of working-class Pittsburg immigrants wrapped the children of the elite around his wand with the allure of his home-grown party scene and promises of superstardom. The uniform style and lack of individuality in the execution of the product worked perfectly to produce the result, a world that turned the dominant culture upside-down was ruled by an enigmatic king, whose public face reflected vacuity, which is the only part of the Warhol story to which I can personally attest. Later in life, with his expressionless face, Warhol seemed to be the personification of a black hole in the universe, but the role reversals upon which his alternative world was constructed celebrated the individuality of the factory workforce and uniformly subjugated the celebrity patrons to the style of his art. The culture that Warhol created in his workplace was a masterful work of art and a precursor to the playpen office culture of the era. Even if not all-in with Warhol’s work culture style, one can’t help but admire Warhol’s hierarchy reversal.

In the beginning, Andy Warhol was a worker who owned the means of production participating in the production of the artwork that bore his name, Later he stopped participating and just directed operations like an executive of a corporation.

Pop Art, or post-modern art, is a precursor to AI Art, the art of the post-Industrial Revolution when the machine displaces the human workforce. AI art, like Pop Art, is drawn from a database of existing artworks that it appropriates. Now Pop Art is part of the existing database from which AI can appropriate.

I asked Crayons, a free AI image generator to draw an Andersen Design Seagull in the style of Andy Warhol. It generated a barely adequate appropriation of Andy Warhol’s style but was completely unable to capture any of the iconic Andersen Design seagulls:

What AI produced when asked for an image of the Andersen Design Seagull in Andy Warhol style.

And so in the contemporary evolution of post-modern art, Andersen Design is the enigma that today’s evolution of postmodernism cannot capture perhaps because Andersen Design is the face of a culture hidden by the mist, to borrow from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s popular novel, The Mists of Avalon, that tells of a pagan culture that receded into the mists in the era of Christianity. The cottage industries are a culture in the mists of the Industrial Revolution., and therein is found the home business, which is the work culture of choice of Andersen Design.

That Wikipedia refuses to include Andersen Design in its history of midcentury design accounts for Andersen Design’s prevailing status as an art world enigma. Wikipedia is a source for appropriation by AI. Occlusion by Wikipedia enables Andersen Design to remain an enigma after all these years, supported only by the individuation of the masses dwelling in the mists beyond the dominant culture. Warhol’s imitators say it doesn’t matter what is said, it only matters to be talked about. The next-level enigma isn’t talked about in mass culture escaping capture by AI, the key to being an enigma in the twenty-first century.

The role of the artist as corporate executive was adopted by Warhol’s imitators.

Warhol’s descendants, Mark Kostabi and Jeff Koons did not produce their work themselves. Kostabi’s persona is an appropriation of Warhol’s persona, a fancy way of saying he copied Warhol’s persona before he adapted it, but while Warhol made the workers into superstars, Kostobi celebrates paying workers minimum wage while selling the work for hundreds of thousands of dollars. An interview with Kostabi makes Warhol look like a spiritual ray of light:

The art is the artist’s persona which is cynical and opportunistic. When asked if he is a conman, Kostab says yes without shame or disgrace, a technique used to normalize worker exploitation and all the rest of the mechanics of the then-burgeoning transformation of a society with a great middle class to today’s society with an extreme ownership class-working class divide. Kostabi doesn’t have ideas, he pays one dollar for an idea for a painting that he never touches that will eventually sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The collector loves the painting because he owns and controls it. Kostabi World makes the perverse sides of human character cool. This is how it is done, he said, appropriated from Warhol, but enshittified.

This was the razzle-dazzle of the era when the wealth divide began its ascent after four decades of decline and then leveling into the golden age of the American middle class when Andersen Design established roots.

Variations on a Theme.

The name of Warhol’s masterpiece “the factory” is a throwback to the mass manufacturing factories that replaced the domestic system of manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. The Andersens began as urban designers in New York City. The mid-century design movement wasn’t hype. It was about good design.

After a stint as the Dean of the Akron Art Institute Art School, Weston moved to the coast of Maine with his wife Brenda and three young daughters to produce a line of hand-crafted products for the middle class in a production attached to their home, back to the days of the pre-industrial revolution cottage industries, into the mists where the populous market rules hidden from the world of hype.

Weston Neil Andersen was raised on a farm in Iowa around the time that large corporate farming was replacing the domestic farm. Like Warhol, Weston responds to his time by reinventing factory production, taking the factory back to a domicile scene, as traditional farming had always been done, but in this case, the product is ceramic art made from the raw materials of the earth and sourced locally.

The art object on the left in the featured image was produced in a New England-style home, and sold in its beginnings in a 200-year-old barn on a grassy hillside on a peninsula in Maine. The line started with functional forms and, responding to the environment, the Andersens added a line of wildlife sculptures. Like Warhol, the Andersens also produced the occasional commissioned personal portrait.

The Girl Who Changed Her Hairdo, two faces of a mug, most likely a commissioned form as it does not have the markings of Weston’s design work, but is hand decorated by my mother, probably in preparation for a commissioned personal portrait, a test run for how to place the portrait on the form.

Warhol responded to his times by positioning himself as the power elite of the new upside-down social order. Warhol’s successors divorced themselves from any involvement in the productive work process, Weston and Brenda used the time of the transcendent middle class to develop the means to pursue their work process and in owning the means of their production, as a free enterprise endeavor. They never ceased hands-on involvement in the work process.

Andersen Design spawned successors as a ceramic cluster industry grew in the region including notables, Edgecomb Potters and Sheepscott River Pottery, and a direct imitator POD, started by an employee using Andersen’s originally developed glaze recipes and producing a direct imitation of the Andersen line of wildlife sculptures.

To live a life engaged in a work process one loves is the end goal. That requires creating the means to afford to do so. and thus running a business, but the business was a means to an end, which was to be engaged in the creative work process.

Post-Modernism Economic Development Theory Misappropriates People Power as Hegenomic Authority

At the end of the video clip, Andy Warhol said “It just gives us something to do every day. That’s the reason we do it”. What we do every day is life. When the interviewer asks Andy “What is the meaning of Pop Art” He says “Oh can you ask Ivan that??” The camera remains on Warhol for a while as it appears that he is slyly trying to contain a smile. You see him place his tongue against his cheek as if it stops him from breaking into laughter. Perhaps there is a secret between Ivan and Warhol that we will never know or perhaps it is just Andy laughing that there isn’t any more to it than “I do what I do because I like to do it”.

If the true source of wealth has greater meaning than financial wealth, the source of wealth is in well-being, and beingness is what we experience and do every day of our lives. Artists process that by expressing it. Warhol reflects his world, let others reflect upon his reflection, so pass the mike to Ivan!

Warhol experiences the world visually and reacts emotionally. Andy Warhol depicted images of culture because that was what surrounded him in his urban environment. Ivan articulates what Warhol does intellectually.

Andersen Design depicted wildlife because that was what surrounded them. It was a choice the Andersens made to be surrounded by a rural rather than an urban environment, a choice also made by earlier Arts and Crafts movements in response to industrialization. Andersen Design was the first ceramic studio in the Boothbay Region.

Warhol says he likes to watch soap operas. I like to watch Asian soap operas on Netflix. I once read that Asian cultures were conformist. I don’t know if that was true then but today Asian culture leads to individualization, the era that sequentially follows an era of collectivization and centralization. While American dramas feature a few industries, Asians create stories about many different types of work. I am watching Atelier, a Japanese drama about a small shop that custom-makes handcrafted lingerie and decides to do a pret-a-porter line. The drama depicts the life of small entrepreneurialism in a relatable way, delving into the different sizes of ready-made productions and why the characters chose a particular size. Andersen Design chose to remain small. In American mass culture, the focus is on scaling up, launching the IPO, and becoming a publicly traded corporation. Asian dramas cover all sizes of the work culture and stories frequently end with the lead character quitting his job in the corporate conglomerate and starting a micro-business.

Andersen Design once did a lot of business with Japan’s Itoya department store.

Post-modernism economic development theory has consolidated its power in Maine since 1976 when the Maine Legislature, in defiance of Home Rule, deemed that “centrally managing the economy is an essential government function”. In recent years there is a movement to transform the Boothbay Peninsula into the next iteration of the mass-produced urban grid, wasting the unique value to which peninsulas are geographically suited as a world unique. Andersen Design is not recognized by community and state leaders as possessing relevance, historical precedence, or assets. I have tried to find ways to participate in the local economic development conversation only to find closed doors at best, but usually, just a wall, separating the hegemonic culture from the world in the mists.

The Hegemony secures its power by marginalizing any other view and silencing independent voices. Thus the Maine Community Foundation holds that as an individual manager of a fiscally sponsored project, I am excluded from applying to any of the state-wide community grants that the Foundation oversees- because I am an individual despite a byline that declares that the Community Foundation “brings people and resources together” but excluding individuals. What does that mean?

It means the individual have their own visions and make their own decisions and the Community Foundation does not support that way. Andy Warhol acted independently and changed the art world. Independents sway elections and change the political world, and scientific breakthroughs are usually made by individuals like Thomas Edison and Einstein. Oftentimes innovation requires an individualistic independent as the catalyst of change.

Be The Change!

About Susan Mackenzie Andersen

I was blessed with being raised in this amazing business in a home that uses ceramic slip-cast production as an art form. My mission is to set this business up so that others can enjoy the same lifestyle while benefitting from what Andersen Design created. Follow me on my substack blog, Mackenzie Andersen's The Individual vs The Empire! I write about the public-private-non-profit-profit wealth concentration and redistribution industrial complex - and then I dream a better world.

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