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Stanford University to receive Anderson Collection of 20th-century American art

L.A. Cicero Harry W. Anderson, left, Mary Patricia Anderson Pence and Mary Margaret Anderson

Harry W. Anderson, left, Mary Patricia Anderson Pence and Mary Margaret Anderson stand between two paintings, a Franz Kline and a Mark Rothko, which are part of the gift to Stanford.

BY LISA LAPIN

Stanford University will become home to the core of the Anderson Collection, one of the most outstanding private collections of 20th-century American art in the world, which is being donated to the university by Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson, and Mary Patricia Anderson Pence, the Bay Area family who built the collection over nearly 50 years.

The Anderson Collection at Stanford will contain 121 works by 86 artists, including some of the foremost examples of post-World War II American art in public and private hands. The collection is anchored in the work of the New York School and key modern and contemporary artists collected in depth, across media. Major movements represented include Abstract Expressionism, Color Field Painting, Post-Minimalism, California Funk Art, Bay Area Figurative Art, Light and Space and contemporary painting and sculpture.

The collection is one of the most valuable and significant to be donated to any university. Represented artists include Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline, Morris Louis, Agnes Martin, Robert Motherwell, Nathan Oliveira, David Park, Mark Rothko, David Smith, Frank Stella and Wayne Thiebaud. Key individual works include Jackson Pollock's Lucifer, Willem de Kooning's Woman Standing – Pink, Richard Diebenkorn's Ocean Park #60, Sam Francis' Red in Red, Philip Guston's The Coat II, Ellsworth Kelly's Black Ripe and Clyfford Still's 1957-J No. 1.

"The Andersons' contribution is historic and their desire to share this remarkable collection with the world reflects their philosophy that art can inspire all of us," said Stanford President John Hennessy. "It will be an honor to own this beloved collection at Stanford University and curate these works in perpetuity for the benefit of future generations of students, art scholars and the public. We intend to continue the Andersons' tradition of making great art accessible by highlighting the collection as a key element in our broad arts initiative at Stanford."

Stanford plans to construct a permanent building dedicated exclusively for the Anderson Collection within its arts district, adjacent to the Cantor Arts Center, near the Bing Concert Hall now under construction and the planned McMurtry Building for Art and Art History. The Anderson Gallery is anticipated to open in late 2014.

"Throughout our adult lives, we have always been closely associated with colleges and universities, and in making this gift to Stanford we anticipate the students, the public and the entire art community will have the opportunity to fully engage the collection," said Harry "Hunk" and Mary Margaret "Moo" Anderson. "Hopefully, this gift makes a great university greater, and the world a grain of salt better."

The gift of the collection marks a major milestone in the Stanford arts initiative, a university-wide effort to increase support for the arts and creativity, including significant investments in new arts facilities, faculty positions and graduate fellowships, as well as new arts programs designed to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and engagement with the arts throughout campus.

The ties between Stanford University and the Andersons have spanned many decades and have included professors Lorenz Eitner, Al Elsen, Nathan Oliveira, Wanda Corn and John Merryman, to name just a few. More than 30 doctoral candidates in art history at Stanford have interned at the Anderson Collection, engaging in intensive study and curating collection exhibitions.

"The collection will be of tremendous academic value and we anticipate that the Anderson Collection at Stanford will quickly become a significant research destination for arts scholars from throughout the world," said Nancy J. Troy, chair of the Department of Art and Art History and the Victoria and Roger Sant Professor in Art. "The opportunity for sustained and intensive examination of these important works will enhance Stanford's already strong reputation as a preeminent location for the study of the arts. The Anderson Collection will catalyze curators, faculty and students to collaborate in the creation of exhibitions and publications that can have a transformative impact on the ways in which the arts are experienced at Stanford –and beyond."

The Andersons began collecting art in the mid-1960s after a trip to Europe, where they admired works of the French Impressionists. They initially collected work by Early Modernists, such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse; the German Expressionists, such as Emile Nolde; and the Early American Modernists, such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove. By 1969, however, the Andersons had made the bold decision to concentrate exclusively on post-World War II American art.

The Andersons have always used as a criteria for collecting, "Have we seen it before, and could we have thought of it?" placing special emphasis on the head and the hands of the artist.

The Andersons have always considered themselves "custodians" of their collection, which they have shared widely through loans to museums and special exhibitions. Especially noteworthy were Celebrating Modern Art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and An American Focus at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. This gift further supports the Andersons' philosophy of collection-sharing and follows prior gifts of significant portions of their collection to other arts organizations, namely 650 graphic works to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Pop Art collection to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

In addition to the permanent collection to be housed at Stanford, it is anticipated that other portions of the greater Anderson Collection will be available for loan exhibitions on the campus.

"This arrangement with Stanford is a momentous occasion for the Andersons," said Jason Linetzky, manager of the Anderson Collection. "It offers the family their first true opportunity to maintain the integrity of the core collection in perpetuity, to launch an active and lasting legacy, and to engage the broadest possible audience – all, long-held goals."

Some of the Anderson Collection works being donated to Stanford include:

Willem de Kooning: Woman Standing – Pink (1954-55) and Untitled (1986)
Richard Diebenkorn: Ocean Park #60 (1973) 
Sam Francis: Red in Red (1955) 
Philip Guston: The Coat II (1977) and The Tale (1961)
Ellsworth Kelly: Black Ripe (1955) 
Franz Kline: Figure 8 (1952)
Morris Louis: #64 (1958)
John McLaughlin: #13 (1962)
Joan Mitchell: "Before, Again IV (1985)
David Park: Four Women (1959)
Jackson Pollock: Lucifer (1947) 
Ad Reinhardt: Abstract Painting (1966)
Mark Rothko: Untitled - Black on Gray (1969) and Pink and White over Red (1957)
David Smith: Timeless Clock (1957)
Frank Stella: Zeltweg (1981)
Clyfford Still: 1957-J No. 1 (1947)
Wayne Thiebaud: Candy Counter (1962)

 

Media Contact

Lisa Lapin, University Communications, (650) 725-8396, lapin@stanford.edu