Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frank Stella are some of the stars of the Anderson Collection of postwar American art, opening this weekend at a new $36 million museum at Stanford University in California.
For Stanford, which first made its reputation as an engineering school, the building is the second of three projects to create an arts district around its flagship museum, the Cantor Center. The nearby $112 million Bing Concert Hall opened in 2013, and next year will see the completion of the $85 million McMurtry Building to house the Art and Art History Department, whose programs have been scattered across the campus near Palo Alto.
The Anderson Collection opens as Stanford begins a policy in which every undergraduate “must take at least one class on arts or related areas,” said Matthews Tiews, executive director of Stanford’s arts programs, at a museum preview this week.
The goal is that even the computer-science nerds have “a reasonable exposure to the arts,” Tiews said.
Harry Anderson and his wife, Mary Margaret, longtime San Francisco Bay Area residents though not Stanford graduates, began collecting contemporary art in the 1960s. Their gift to the university includes 121 works by 86 artists, with emphasis on the New York School of abstract expressionism and California artists such as Wayne Thiebaud and Stanford graduate Richard Diebenkorn. The current installation features 104 of the works.
Stanford isn’t the only school that’s been investing more in campus museums. On Nov. 16, Harvard University will open a new structure designed by Renzo Piano that ties together the existing Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Sackler museums under one glass roof. The $250 million project in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will increase gallery space by 40 percent, add facilities for teaching, study and art conservation, and create new public spaces and courtyards.
The Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, completed a $135 million renovation and reconfiguration of its three adjacent museum buildings in late 2012, a project designed by Ennead Architects, which also designed the new Stanford museum. Michigan State University opened the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in East Lansing in 2012, a $40 million project designed by Zaha Hadid.
Richard Olcott led the Ennead Architects team behind the Anderson Collection. He is also responsible for the Bing hall as well as the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York. The tan, two-story Anderson building “is designed to play well with its neighbors” in scale and color, Olcott said at the preview.
Visitors are greeted by a wide central staircase that carries them to the main second-floor galleries, a series of airy, white-walled spaces that surround the stairs. A library, offices and a gallery for temporary exhibitions are located on the ground floor.
The upstairs galleries organize the works by theme, such as “New York School” (Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, Philip Guston) “Geometric Abstraction” (Ellsworth Kelly, Josef Albers), “Bay Area Figuration” (Diebenkorn, Thiebaud) and “California Light & Space” (Robert Irwin, Larry Bell).
In celebration of the debut, the Cantor Center has organized “Robert Frank in America,” an exhibition of photographs by the Swiss emigre best known for the 1959 book “The Americans.” The show features 130 of Frank’s images from the ’50s and ’60s, most from Stanford’s permanent collection and including a few from the classic book. Curated by Peter Galassi, formerly of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the exhibition offers fresh images in the same unsentimental style as “The Americans.”
The Cantor has also mounted an exhibition of 10 Pop Art works, including an iconic Andy Warhol self-portrait, that the Andersons previously donated to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
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