Exterior of the Anderson Collection at Stanford University

The Anderson Collection at Stanford University, which is adjacent to Cantor Arts Center, contains 121 works by 86 artists. (Photo: Tim Griffith)

A private art collection becomes a Stanford collection

The Anderson Collection at Stanford University – adjacent to Cantor Arts Center and the planned McMurtry Building for the Department of Art and Art History (opening in 2015), and across Palm Drive from Bing Concert Hall – welcomes visitors.

After months of construction and a summer spent on installation, Stanford is officially the home to
 the core of the Anderson Collection, one of the world's most outstanding private assemblies of post-World War II American art. The collection is a gift from Harry W. "Hunk" and Mary Margaret "Moo" Anderson and their daughter, Mary Patricia "Putter" Anderson Pence, the Bay Area family who collected the art for nearly 50 years.

The Anderson Collection at Stanford University contains 121 works by 86 artists ranging
from Willem de Kooning to Joan Mitchell, Jackson Pollock to Wayne Thiebaud. The collection is anchored in the work of the New York School and incorporates key modern and contemporary artists, collected in depth and 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.

"What a remarkable moment we have arrived at – the opening of the Anderson Collection and the creation of a 21st-century home for a collection that will forever change the way students learn, faculty teaches and community engages with these outstanding modern and contemporary American artworks," said Jason Linetzky, director of the Anderson Collection.

"We could not have achieved this milestone without the enormous support of the Anderson family, our terrific Stanford team and the many supporters and volunteers who have made so much possible. I'm thrilled to be sharing this collection with the world and invite you to became a part of the journey."

The new building for the collection is adjacent to Cantor Arts Center and the planned McMurtry Building for the Department of Art and Art History (opening in 2015), and across Palm Drive from Bing Concert Hall. Total cost for construction of Anderson Collection building is $36 million.

The addition of this remarkable collection on campus helps strengthen Stanford's growing connection between the study, creation and experience of art. The collection is of tremendous academic value and will become a research destination for arts scholars from around the world. It promises to transform the way the arts are experienced at Stanford and beyond.

Pamela Lee, art history professor, looks forward to teaching her Abstract Expressionism course in the building this fall. "It's a fantastic opportunity to teach one of the most important art movements of the 20th century on site at the Anderson Collection. For art historians, there's no substitute for standing in front of the work of art. The opening of the Anderson Collection marks a new moment in the study of the visual arts at Stanford."

The opening of the Anderson Collection at Stanford University also 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 arts have always played a vital role at Stanford University, with the Cantor Arts Center tracing its roots back to the founding of the university," said Matthew Tiews, executive director of arts programs at Stanford. "The arts are vital to Stanford's teaching and research mission, and to connecting the university with our community. The opening of the Anderson Collection at Stanford University will add a new dimension to the Stanford arts district, which brings together multiple disciplines in state-of-the-art facilities."

Admission to the collection is free, but reservations are strongly encouraged on weekends.

Personal and scholarly

Designed by Richard Olcott of the internationally recognized firm Ennead Architects, the building will structurally highlight the personal nature of this collection and offer scholars and visitors the opportunity to experience what it means to really live with art, as the Anderson family has for so long.

Ennead's design was inspired by the Andersons' home: a classic postwar California ranch house with a series of interconnected spaces that embrace the site, extending out into the landscape under spreading shallow pitched roofs, and where the art takes center stage. The new Anderson Collection at Stanford University maintains the casual, accessible and open qualities of experiencing the collection at the Andersons' home.

The pedestrian approach to the Anderson Collection follows a path under heritage trees and moves under the floating volume of the galleries, a modern version of the outdoor colonnades that are typical of the Stanford campus. The ground floor contains the entry, library archive room, offices and a single gallery for temporary exhibitions.

Floating above the lower floor, the entire upper level is reserved for art, with a continuous translucent clerestory at the perimeter of the building that brings diffused natural light into the galleries from above. A monumental central staircase serves as an extension of the gallery walls, allowing visitors to view art as they gradually ascend from the lobby to the main galleries above.

Openings between the gallery walls provide views into the double-height stairwell, which serves as a point of orientation for visitors circulating throughout the building. The gallery plan is conceived as one open room allowing visitors to experience the artwork according to their own curiosity rather than a prescribed sequence.

Large-scale windows allow for carefully orchestrated views of the heritage trees in the arboretum, the sculpture garden, the Cantor and Campus Drive, thereby connecting the Anderson Collection with the surrounding landscape and adjacent buildings of the arts district.

The heart of academic engagement within the building will be a multipurpose library archive, reading and teaching space, housing research materials, including art history titles, exhibition catalogs and digital media related to the collection and current exhibitions. Select materials from the Andersons' personal library provide additional context and help illustrate their evolution as collectors.

An illustrated catalog on the Anderson Collection at Stanford University with essays by former Anderson art history interns was published this summer.

Leo Holub exhibition

In celebration of the opening, the first floor gallery hosts the temporary exhibition Peaceful Presence: Leo Holub and the Artist Portrait Project. Featuring portraits of 55 of the artists whose work is on view in the second-floor galleries, this exhibition presents a range of images, from formal portraits to candid shots, that shed light on the practices and creative processes of their influential subjects.

In the mid-1980s, the Andersons commissioned Leo Holub (1916–2010), a beloved Stanford professor who founded the university's photography program in 1969, to take photographs of the artists whose work was then featured in the family's collection. Over the next 10 years, Holub traveled around the country visiting the studios and galleries of more than 110 artists and quietly capturing each of them with a 6x7cm Mamiya camera.

Characterized by Holub as "one of the highlights of my life," the project culminated with the publication of a four-volume portfolio, produced in an edition of two, from which this exhibition is drawn.

The photographs themselves and Holub's stories of his experience making them remain an integral part of the Anderson family's collection.

Highlights of the Anderson Collection at Stanford University

  • Vija Celmins: Barrier (1986)
  • Willem de Kooning: Woman Standing – Pink (1954-55) and Untitled (1986)
  • Richard Diebenkorn: Ocean Park #60 (1973)
  • Sam Francis: Red in Red (1955)
  • Helen Frankenthaler: Approach (1962)
  • Philip Guston: The Coat II (1977) and The Tale (1961)
  • Robert Irwin: Untitled (Disc) (1969)
  • Ellsworth Kelly: Black Ripe (1955)
  • Franz Kline: Figure 8 (1952)
  • Morris Louis: #64 (1958)
  • John McLaughlin: #13 (1962)
  • Joan Mitchell: Before, Again IV (1985)
  • Nathan Oliveira: Reclining Nude (1958)
  • David Park: Four Women (1959)
  • Jackson Pollock: Lucifer (1947)
  • Martin Puryear: Dumb Luck (1990)
  • 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 (1957)
  • Wayne Thiebaud: Candy Counter (1962)