Stanford University's decade-long, $227-million investment in an arts initiative will be in the limelight this month with the unveiling of the Anderson Collection. One of the most valuable gifts in Stanford's history, the collection of 20th-century American art was assembled over the course of fifty years by Bay Area collectors Harry W. "Hunk" and Mary Margaret "Moo" Anderson along with their daughter Mary Patricia "Putter" Anderson Pence. Richard Olcott, a partner in New York-based Ennead Architects, designed the museum building which will feature open, light-filled galleries.
Featuring 121 works by 86 artists, the Anderson Collection has stand-out examples by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Philip Guston and Ellsworth Kelly, among other luminaries. Abstract Expressionist works form the collection’s core, and also well-represented are California art movements such as the Bay Area Figurative School and the Light and Space movement, which had its roots in 1960s Southern California.
A visit to the Louvre in 1964 first sparked the Anderson's collecting journey and they initially acquired French Impressionists such as Renoir. They soon discovered modern American art, guided early on by Albert Elsen, the late professor of art and art history at Stanford. As their collection grew, so did the Anderson's philanthropy. Among their gifts was Robert Rauschenberg’s “Collection,” Jasper Johns’ “Land’s End,” and works by Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, and Frank Stella to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The family’s ranch house will be a little less full of art, although a Calder mobile and others still take up residence there. And Hunk Anderson's Cliff May-designed office complex will now be missing major artworks, but the Andersons are pleased their collection will be on public display in a dedicated building on the Stanford campus. "I think in order to enjoy art, you have to share it," remarked Moo Anderson to the LA Times.
Located adjacent to the university’s Cantor Arts Center, the Anderson Collection will be latest addition to Stanford’s arts district. Last year saw the opening of Bing Concert Hall and 2015 is the date set for a new art and art history building designed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro will open. Stanford students are now required to take cultural courses as part of their curriculum.
Jason Linetzky, the longtime manager of the family’s collection, will be the first director of the Anderson Collection at Stanford. He said, “Family collections are unique in that they tell the story of relationships – with artists, dealers, curators, scholars and many others. This collection is certainly an art historical one in that it represents key modern and contemporary American art movements, but at the same time, and just as importantly, it represents the collective choices and tastes of the family who built it. Maintaining the care, custody and control of the collection up until now has been a tremendous pleasure, and I am excited to engage with campus partners and collaborate on presenting the objects and their stories in ever-unfolding ways.”
Admission to the Anderson Collection is free. Opening day is Sept. 21, with timed admissions.