Stanford University has scored a major gift from the much sought-after collection of the Bay Area’s Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson, affectionately known as Hunk and Moo. The couple, along with their daughter Mary Patricia Anderson Pence, built up their holdings over nearly 50 years, beginning with Impressionist works in 1964 and switching to postwar American art in 1969.
The gift comprises 121 works by 86 artists representing such major 20th-century movements as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Post-Minimalism, California Funk, Bay Area Figuration, and Light and Space. The Anderson Collection consists of some 820 works by over 220 artists and is available for scholarly research and exhibition loans.
Among the highlights of the gift are de Kooning’s Woman Standing—Pink (1954–55), Jackson Pollock’s Lucifer (1947), Clyfford Still’s 1957—J No. 1 (1947), Wayne Thiebaud: Candy Counter (1962), Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park #60 (1973), Sam Francis’s Red in Red (1955) and Joan Mitchell’s Before, Again IV (1985). Other artists represented in the collection include Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline, Morris Louis, Agnes Martin, Robert Motherwell, Nathan Oliveira, Mark Rothko and Frank Stella.
The university will construct a building to house the collection near the Cantor Arts Center and the planned McMurtry Building for Art and Art History, a 90,000-square-foot facility being designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The Anderson Gallery is expected to open in late 2014.
In a press statement, Stanford president John Hennessy said, “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.” Bucking the international trend of slashing arts budgets, Stanford’s initiative involves significant investments in new arts facilities, establishing faculty positions and graduate fellowships, and programs to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations.
For some time it has been widely expected that the couple would donate the bulk of their collection to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which has just embarked on a major expansion. They had already given their Pop art collection to SFMOMA in 1992, as well as 655 graphic works to the Fine Arts Museums/de Young in 1996. Selections from the Anderson Collection have also been shown at SFMOMA in “Celebrating Modern Art” in 2000 and at the de Young in “An American Focus.”
The Anderson Collection’s website states: “With the intention of making a meaningful contribution to the permanent collection at SFMOMA, an important group of Pop Art paintings was gifted in 1992, joining the previously gifted Jasper Johns’ Land’s End and Robert Rauschenberg’s Collection and establishing a permanent dedicated gallery adjacent to the Clyfford Still Gallery.”
But the Andersons have a long history with Stanford as well. They worked closely with Stanford professors like Lorenz Eitner, Al Elsen, Nathan Oliveira, Wanda Corn and John Merryman, who in some cases advised the Andersons in their collecting or helped educate them about the various movements and artists. And more than 30 art history doctoral candidates have interned at the Anderson Collection, including SFMOMA’s current director Neal Benezra.
With hundreds more works in the Anderson Collection, there’s enough to go around.
Above: Harry W. Anderson, Mary Patricia Anderson Pence, Margaret Anderson.