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Jill Osaka, public relations manager, Cantor Center for Visual Arts: (650) 725-4657,

Exhibit showcases Cantor Arts Center's new acquisitions

A portrait of Mick Jagger by Andy Warhol, a bronze bust of Virginia Woolf by Manuel Neri and an abstract woodcut by George Baselitz now share at least two things in common.

First, they are donations made in honor of former President Gerhard Casper to the Cantor Center for Visual Arts. Second, they represent just a few of more than 1,800 new works that have been added to the museum's permanent collection over the last five years.

"It's an unusually large number," said Betsy Fryberger, the curator of prints and drawings and a 30-year museum veteran. Fryberger, chief preparator Donald Larsen and Hilarie Faberman, the Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, have designed an exhibition that features a selection of these recent acquisitions. The center's permanent holdings now total more than 21,000 works.

"Recent Acquisitions to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University" will be on view through March 11 in the Pigott Family Gallery. The show features artwork from the 16th through the 20th centuries, with an emphasis on European and American prints; works by major Bay Area artists; and art donated last year in honor of Casper, who was a strong supporter of the museum, Faberman said.

Faberman attributes the large number of art donations and generous funding for new acquisitions at least in part to the 1999 opening of the center.

Home to what was formerly called the Stanford University Museum of Art, the building at Lomita Drive and Museum Way was closed for a decade after it was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. To celebrate its renovation and re-opening, museum supporters were eager to donate art and funding for new acquisitions, Faberman said.

"What you have in the show is a focus on works on paper and contemporary art," she said. "But it's just the tip of the iceberg."

The "tip" contains some gems, including Mark Tobey's Crystallizations (1944), which exhibits the painter's characteristic style of "white writing" ­ light-colored, calligraphic brushes of paint on a darker background.

According to Faberman, the museum now has close to 25 works by the American artist.

The show also features many other works by modern artists, including Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner and Wayne Thiebaud. To honor Casper, donors have contributed works by major American artists such as Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Frank Stella.

Organizers of the exhibition decided to concentrate on displaying the works on paper ­ prints, drawings and photographs ­ that make up close to half of the new acquisitions. It's a diverse exhibit, tied together by artistic mediums rather than artistic styles: A dozen yards from Rembrandt's etching The Star of Kings: A Night Piece (1651) hangs Lichtenstein's Modern Room (1990), a combination of lithograph, woodcut and screenprint. Both are works on paper.

Faberman said the museum has a particularly strong permanent collection of modern art. This, she reasons, stems from the university's relative youth compared to eastern universities, like Harvard and Yale, and also may reflect West Coast collectors' penchant for modern art.

However, the exhibition also features Old Master prints, such as 16th-century Italian engravings and an 18th-century print based on a painting by Jean-Antoine Watteau.

Among the featured drawings are mid­19th-century French caricatures and late 19th- and early 20th-century landscape watercolors by Henri Cross and Paul Signac. European photography from the 19th century, as well as works by photographers Bill Brandt and Marian Post Wolcott, also are on display.

As an extension of the main exhibition, newly acquired works in other parts of the museum are identified as such. These include an 8th-century Egyptian limestone stele and an African 19th-century wood sculpture titled Mother and Child (Gwanduso), among many other pieces scattered throughout the center.

"Some of the recent acquisitions add to pre-existing strengths; some build in new areas," Faberman said.

Supporters of the Cantor Center who have funded endowed curatorships have enabled the museum to seek out and acquire important artworks, she added.

"Through the endowment of positions, we've been really lucky and really successful," Faberman said. "This museum has incredibly enthusiastic supporters."


By John Sanford

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