Dania Home & Office
Is Dania Home & Office an art gallery? I mulled this over as I walked through the furniture store. Andy Warhol named his famous studio in New York “The Factory"—and it was a factory. As the very public father figure of America’s Pop Movement, Warhol employed artisans to craft his art for the rich masses. They created it per his instructions and supervision, and the art was sold under his name for a pretty penny. It was art generated through means of a production line.
Everyone knew this. Details were disclosed to the public, and the artist personified the idea of cheapening art technique by allowing his art to be created factory style, often without the aid of his hand at all—except to sign it. This was Warhol’s big conceptual breakthrough.
It was a milestone for honesty in the art world. A very famous artist very un-artfully let everyone in on the big secret happening in his studio: Big demand prevented him from being able to actually create all the artwork that his name was selling—his very un-famous studio hands made it for him. Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst have since, quite successfully, used the same art-business model.
In contrast, furniture stores of the chain variety carry a different kind of factory art. This product is developed in the same manner that Warhol’s was: a design is decided upon with minions carrying out the paint application. The difference is that in this situation, no superstar artist is heading up the operation so prices are much cheaper but the “factory” aspect of these paintings’ production is not openly disclosed.
At Dania Furniture, one can see pieces that evoke the look of familiar art by Arthur Dove, but more lively in color; Franz Kline, but with silver leaf; Mark Rothko—only with more stippled texture; and renditions of Vasily Kandinsky’s work, but more contained. And that’s just it, they look like art that viewers may know already, and there’s the craftiness.
It all came full circle when, against a far wall, I spotted it: an honest-to-god Warhol Campbell’s Soup Can—unmistakable! Now this was a print, but so were his “originals.” I didn’t see his signature on this one. The price was $200, framed, and with a big SALE tag on it—maybe Mr. Dania was feeling generous—or it was a licensed poster print, like the ones bought in the mall. It would be safe to assume the latter.
Poster-print aside, the others were paintings with drips, textures and smudges. The common term for what Dania sells is “designer art"—extremely cheap prices and yes, it matches the sofas. A few were actually pretty original with a couple that this reviewer would enjoy hanging in his own home.
The art of Dania Home & Office furniture begs two questions: 1.) Who made these works, artists or craftsman? 2.) How can an old fashioned artist possibly compete?