We celebrated New Year’s Day 2015 with a visit to Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center. We were especially interested in the newly-opened Anderson Collection at Stanford University. And we were not disappointed. The collection is housed in a new building designed specifically to show the works in the best light possible — literally and figuratively. (The photo above shows the building viewed from the second floor of the Cantor Arts Center next door. We’ll have more to say about that apparent pile of rust later.) We commend the team from ennead architects as well as the various construction firms for doing such an outstanding job. (Click here for the complete list.)
The collection is spectacular. With 121 pieces, there is enough to occupy the eyes and mind for an afternoon. The Anderson family’s preference runs to large canvas (and non-canvas) works, mostly produced since 1940. And the list of artists runs the gamut from the famous (Richard Diebenkorn) through the infamous (Jackson Pollack) to lesser-known contributors such as Joan Mitchell and Ellsworth Kelly. But regardless of the degree of fame, each and every one of these works merits attention. The Andersons clearly bought what they liked — and they liked many different styles.
We were especially taken by Charles Arnoldi’s “Untitled” 1981 acrylic on tree branches. (Images used under fair use and derivative works notice available by clicking here.)
The main galleries are on the second floor. They are organized somewhat whimsically as Bay Area Abstraction, Bay Area Figuration, California Light & Space, Color Field Painting, Contemporary Painting, Funk, Hard-Edge Painting, New York School, and Post-Minimalism.
Approaching the building, you’ll see this:
Most of the artwork is on the second floor, clearing most of the trees and surrounding buildings to improve the natural light.
These are large works. The galleries have been designed to give visitors plenty of room for perspective, as well as spacing between the pieces.
From Cantor to Anderson
Unfortunately, we took a bit too long getting this review ready. The massive Richard Serra sculpture Sequence (2006) is now closed, being prepared for its upcoming move 30 miles north to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. (We are long-time SFMOMA members and look forward to visiting this work in its new location sometime in 2016.) This is actually a maze that we explored. The gallery below will give you some idea of the scale and scope of this piece. (This work is copyright © 2006 by Richard Serra. The photos are copyright 2015 LosAltosPolitico.com. Images used under fair use and derivative works notice available by clicking here.)
The Anderson family has an interesting history and a fascinating connection to Stanford. Harry Anderson founded Saga Foods in New Jersey. He soon moved to Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park. (This was well before that street became famous for venture capital and other tech firms.) In November, 2014 Vanity Fair profiled the family in an article titled “A Dorm-Food Fortune Has Funded the Best New Museum in Silicon Valley.”
Harry “Hunk” Anderson, his wife Mary Margaret (“Moo”) Anderson and their daughter Mary Patricia (“Putter”) Anderson Pence donated the collection to Stanford. Here they are, along with former Stanford provost John Etchemendy, at the groundbreaking.
You might think that their home must have been pretty big to house this massive collection. Actually, not. Here’s a photo of the family in their home.
When You Visit
Parking can be tricky at Stanford, but is usually free Saturdays, Sundays, and after 5 pm weekdays. Otherwise, park in one of the public lots and pay the parking fee. If you’re not familiar with the Stanford campus, get a good map and plan your route. Stanford began as Leland and Jane Stanford’s farm. In some respects, the road layout still follows the original cowpaths.
General information for first-time or infrequent visitors is here. A pdf map of the campus is here. A better (searchable) map is available here (with the Cantor Arts Center highlighted). The museum’s hours, driving directions, parking, and other valuable information is here.
If you’re visiting the greater Palo Alto area, a great way to spend the day is visits to the Cantor Gallery and the Anderson Collection. Highly recommended.
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