The building houses 121 modern and contemporary artworks by 86 different artists. The collection includes paintings and sculptures that were donated to the school in 2011 by Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson and Mary Patricia Anderson Pence. The Anderson family has been collecting art for over 50 years, and they have given parts of their collection to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. The family has a strong history of cultivating Bay Area art, and their recent donation to Stanford has created a permanent home for most of the collection.
The opening of the Anderson Collection is a new, valuable asset for art historians and Stanford students. Yet, the collection is also open and free to the public. The building is located just next to the Cantor Art Center, which also offers free admission. These two museums together have helped bring art to the heart of Silicon Valley. The Cantor was opened with the establishing of the school, and its looming, neoclassical building towers over the new Anderson Collection.
The Anderson is tucked to the side of the Cantor and may not be as noticeable while heading down Palm Drive. But the building is a huge asset to the area’s artistic culture. The actual building is completely in tune with the art it houses. You enter at the ground level, climb a grand staircase, and will find yourself elevated in the second-floor gallery. The building is streamlined and modern, and while the architecture is a work of art in and of itself, it does not deter from the experience of viewing the actual gallery. The building is open and allows visitors to move freely through the gallery without any sort of directives. The collection features paintings and sculptures from the post-war era into contemporary times.
Some of the most popular and celebrated works in the collection are Jackson Pollock’s Lucifer and Mark Rothko’s Pink and White Over Red. They’re certainly demanding pieces in the collection and bring well-renowned artist names to the gallery. Yet, the Anderson spent most of the past 50 years collecting Bay Area art, and the presence and availability of west coast artists at the Anderson really makes the collection unique.
Richard Diebenkorn, Nathan Oliveira—a former professor at Stanford—David Park, William Wiley, and Paul Wonners are all represented in the collection along with a number of other Californian artists. The Bay Area Figurative Movement is a major theme of the collection, and many of these works will now permanently remain in this area. The collection offers an interesting conversation between east coast and west coast modern and contemporary art, and it certainly adds to Stanford’s reputation and its growing Arts Initiative.
The Anderson family worked for decades to grow their personal art collection and to cultivate the arts within the Bay Area. The opening of the Anderson Gallery has increased the artistic prestige of Stanford—a school so strongly associated with everything technical—and the museum has provided new opportunities for students studying art and art history. But the Anderson Gallery is also open to the public. It is a space that feels personal in its nature as a completely handpicked collection, it brings a new wave of artistic validation to the middle of Silicon Valley, and it is now one of the best university collections in the country.