Astrid Anderberg's work was a crossover between the applied arts and free visual arts. She was one of the artists who in the 1950s developed narratives through their ceramics. The themes of her visual stories were inspired by nature, literature and history.
Astrid Anderberg was born in Tranås. She was the daughter of Carl Johan Nordlind, a transportation commissioner, and Maria Persson, a teacher at a junior school. Her father’s work with the state railway resulted in the family being moved around quite frequently. In 1947 Astrid Anderberg got married to Bengt Anderberg, an author, and the couple had a son called Niklas three years later. That same year, 1950, the Anderbergs released a book together called Niklas och figuren with illustrations by Astrid Anderberg.
After graduating from high school Astrid Anderberg had intended to become a social worker. By virtue of meeting Bengt Anderberg she became introduced to artists’ circles and she decided instead to train as a ceramicist through Slöjdföreningens school in Gothenburg. As the ceramics department was just being set up the students were often left to their own devices. Astrid Anderberg spent an extra year at the school during which she sometimes substituted for the sculpting teacher.
In 1949 Astrid Anderberg, along with Rolf Denman and Åke Thörnblad, established Studio Keramik in Gothenburg. She mainly created functional ceramics but also started figurative pottery. The workshop was used by both professionals and amateurs as a place to glaze and fire their ceramics. In the early phase the ceramicists also gave classes in order to earn their livelihoods.
Astrid Anderberg opened her own studio in 1957, called Astrid Anderberg Keramik. She and her husband spent their summers on Bornholm and in 1963 they bought a dilapidated farm there which they gradually restored. Astrid Anderberg had a temporary workshop there for a while until the couple settled permanently on the Danish island in 1972.
Astrid Anderberg held her first solo exhibition at Konsthantverkarna in Stockholm in 1963. She displayed her austere functional ceramic stoneware, which had visible markings from being turned and bore dull glazing, but she also displayed humours bird sculptures. Birds became a favourite theme in her future work. The following year she and the textile artist Inga Brandt held an exhibition at the Röhss museum and this proved to be her public breakthrough. The reviewers of the trade journal Form wrote that Astrid Anderberg’s varied and personal collection of work guaranteed her a place among the leading Swedish ceramic artists.
Astrid Anderberg’s first official commission was to produce ceramic murals for the entrance of the women’s clinic at Östra hospital in Gothenburg. The first of these to be mounted was Fågelmuren in 1967. It consisted of a broken brickwork wall in which her trademark stoneware birds were nesting, complete with eggs or younglings. A few years later her work Paradisskåpet, portraying motherhood and sexuality, became one of her most talked about pieces. Today the only surviving mural work at the women’s clinic is Kulramar. Astrid Anderberg completed several official commissions, including work for Frölunda cultural centre, Kungsbacka town hall, and Önnered school.
Astrid Anderberg’s solo exhibition at the Röhss museum in 1977 was entitled Djur och odjur. It included a piece called Babels torn which depicted animals and other creatures squashed into a tower. In another work she recreated 24 apocalyptical scenes from the Book of Revelation, where angels played trombones and the dead rose out of their graves. Her small figures were both playful and smiling, in contrast to the overarching theme.
During the 1980s Astrid Anderberg continued to create ceramic reliefs. She then began to work with large free-standing animal sculptures in stylised shapes. The dogs, rabbits, cats, rooks and chickens she became known for were sometimes enigmatic or humorous in their portrayals.
In 1998 Astrid Anderberg displayed large sculptural pieces alongside paintings by her son Niklas Anderberg at Bornholm’s art museum. She included animals, both imaginary and real, as separate sculptures or as decorative elements on her bowls and other items. Four years later Astrid Anderberg held an exhibition at the same museum entitled “Keramik gennem 50 år”. Her own comment on her 50 years of production was that she had spent all that time working on the same thing, albeit in infinite variations.
Astrid Anderberg held many solo exhibits, largely in Sweden, but she also participated in group displays such as “Fri keramik” at Lund konsthall in 1977. Her Danish exhibitions mainly took the form of group displays such as at Den Permanente in Copenhagen. Astrid Anderberg was also a participant in the IV International Exhibition of Ceramics of Art in Sopot, Poland in 1979.
Astrid Anderberg received an annual artist’s salary from the Swedish state during the years of 1965, 1971, and 1977.
Astrid Anderberg died in 2010.