During their lifetimes, the Bay Area–based collectors Mary Margaret “Moo” and Harry “Hunk” Anderson cultivated holdings of works by major American artists including Mark Rothko, Philip Guston, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, Clyfford Still, and other marquee names. Theirs was a storied collection known internationally for its quality and breadth, and it included works from artists of the New York School, Bay Area figurative painters, and luminaries from the Light and Space and Color Field movements.
One of the couples’ greatest contributions to the Bay Area art scene was their donation of over 100 works to Stanford University in 2011. Those pieces formed the basis for the university’s Anderson Collection, which opened to the public in 2014. Just before her death at age 92 in 2019, Moo gifted two more significant works to the Anderson Collection: Jackson Pollock’s Totem Lesson 1 (1944) and Willem de Kooning’s Gansevoort Street (1949–51).
Some of the earliest influences on Moo and Hunk’s collecting were two Stanford professors: art historian Albert Elsen and painter Nathan Oliveira. Pieces by Oliveira, Richard Diebenkorn, and Paul Wonner were among the first acquired by the Andersons in the 1960s. And in the years since, the Andersons continued to cultivate their eye, buying great art that was distinct to their tastes. Their collecting style over the years could be summed up with the question: “Have we seen it before, and could we have thought of it?”
On the occasion of the opening of the Anderson Collection at Stanford, Moo extrapolated on the family’s decision to gift works to the university. “It’s good to study art in books, but something happens in the presence of the original—it affects the brain, taste, feelings and more,” she said. “I think in order to enjoy art, you have to share it.”
View a selection of pieces from the Anderson Collection in the following slideshow, and read a profile of Moo Anderson here.