Acquisitions News

After Major Bay Area Collector Dies, Key Works by de Kooning, Pollock Go to Stanford University

ackson Pollock, 'Totem Lesson I,' 1944, oil on canvas

Jackson Pollock, Totem Lesson I, 1944, oil on canvas.

©2019 THE POLLOCK-KRASNER FOUNDATION/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK

When Mary Margaret “Moo” Anderson, a prominent Bay Area philanthropist, died last week at age 92, many were quick to note that she and her husband, Harry W. “Hunk” Anderson, had transformed Stanford University’s art collection through their donations. Just before she died, however, Anderson planned to leave the museum an additional gift—masterpieces by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

The Anderson Collection, a museum of modern and contemporary American art at the California university, will unveil Pollock’s Totem Lesson 1 (1944) and de Kooning’s Gansevoort Street (1949–51) to a small group on Monday night. It’s yet another major gift from the Andersons, who helped form the collection back in 2014 when they gave the museum 121 works.

Jason Linetzky, the director of the Anderson Collection, told ARTnews that the Pollock and de Kooning works “give us such a greater breadth of opportunity to share the trajectory of the two artists’ careers,” adding that the gift “really marks the way in which we see this collection growing.”

Totem Lesson 1, which Pollock created before adopting his famed drip technique, will be the earliest piece in the museum’s collection, which already owns one early-career painting by the Abstract Expressionist. Gansevoort Street is the third de Kooning to enter the Anderson Collection’s holdings.

The Anderson Collection is now celebrating its fifth anniversary, and though Moo’s death has darkened the mood some, Linetzky said of the new gift, “She would like us to be celebrating it. With this gift, we really have an opportunity to redefine what it means to be university art museum in 21st-century.”

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