University receives enormous Anderson art donation

June 30, 2011, 2:03 a.m.

Stanford recently accepted one of the preeminent collections of post-World War II American art, a significant private donation known as the ‘Anderson Collection,’ that is expected to make the University a major destination for art enthusiasts.

The collection, built over the last 50 years by Harry W. Anderson, Mary Margaret Anderson and Mary Patricia Anderson Pence, consists of 121 paintings and sculptures. It is one of the most expensive collections to be donated to any university.

Many had expected the Andersons to donate the collection to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which has been a regular beneficiary of the couple. However, the couple cited public education as a motive for their unexpected move.

“We have always been closely associated with colleges and universities, and in making this gift to Stanford, we anticipate the students, the public and the entire art community will have the opportunity to fully engage the collection,” they said in a statement. “Hopefully, this gift makes a great university greater and the world a grain of salt better.”

The University has announced that by 2014, it will complete the construction of a building to house the collection.

According to Stanford University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin, the Anderson Gallery will be a part of the new “arts district” adjacent to the Cantor Arts Center and the planned McMurtry Building for Art and Art History.

“An exact site plan has not been determined, but we do hope we will be able to announce architect selection shortly,” she wrote in an email to The Daily. “Funding for the building will be from University sources and is expected to include philanthropy.”

She also emphasized that the building itself is not included in the Andersons’ gift.

“The Andersons’ gift to the campus comprises works of art, not a monetary contribution,” she wrote.

Though housing and maintaining the pieces will be at a financial cost to the University, President Hennessy released a statement highlighting the educational value of housing the collection at Stanford.

“It will be an honor to own this beloved collection at Stanford University and curate these works in perpetuity for the benefit of future generations of students, art scholars and the public,” he 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.”

In their statement, the Andersons explained that the impetus behind the collection came during a 1964 trip to Paris, where they were inspired by the Louvre’s French Impressionist pieces. They initially focused on Early Modernists and Early American Modernists, before shifting exclusively to post-World War II American art.

Stanford has been intimately involved in the collection even prior to the donation; in the time since its inception, several Stanford professors and 30 postdoctoral interns have studied it.

Collection artists include Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline, Morris Louis, Agnes Martin, Robert Motherwell, Nathan Oliveira, David Park, Mark Rothko, David Smith, Frank Stella and Wayne Thiebaud–86 individuals in all.

The Andersons described it as a “collection of collections,” given its inclusion of a range of genres such as abstract expressionism, color field painting, post-minimalism, California funk art, Bay Area figurative art, light and space contemporary painting and sculptures.

“This arrangement with Stanford is a momentous occasion for the Andersons,” said Jason Linetzky, manager of the Anderson Collection, in a statement. “It offers the family their first true opportunity to maintain the integrity of the core collection in perpetuity, to launch an active and lasting legacy and to engage the broadest possible audience–all long-held goals.”

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