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Elite Collection of Modern Masters to Anchor Stanford’s Growing ‘Arts District’

| November 6, 2013
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By Cy Musiker

Artist's rendering of the museum building for the Anderson Collection at Stanford University. (Courtesy Stanford University.)

Artist’s rendering of the museum building for the Anderson Collection at Stanford University. (Courtesy Stanford University)

I got a preview Tuesday of a coming arts district and curriculum at Stanford University and the truly drool-worthy collection of modern art that will help anchor it.

Jason Linetzky, director of Stanford’s Anderson Collection, led a small group of journalists around the collection at an office complex just off Sand Hill Road.

Harry Anderson and his wife Mary are donating 121 paintings and drawings plus a small art library to Stanford, including works by Willem de Kooning, Sam Francis, Richard Diebenkorn and Philip Guston. The collection will be housed in a new museum, now under construction, and due to open next fall.

“The front door of Stanford’s campus is the arts,” said Matthew Tiews, executive director of the Arts Programs at Stanford. He cited the new museum, the Bing Concert Hall performing arts center — finished last year — and a new Art and Art History building to be completed by the fall of 2015. Stanford has also added a new requirement that every freshman make some kind of art in their first year at the school.

The real fun on Tuesday’s tour was the chance to see some of the work the Andersons have collected since they got hooked on art after a 1964 visit to the Louvre in Paris. A better eye than mine has noted the Anderson collection is a careful balance between abstract and figurative works.

The Andersons have had the money to buy the best. Harry Anderson and two friends founded Saga Foods (now owned by Marriott) in 1948 while students at New York state’s Hobart College, and Anderson, 93, said today the company was profitable from day one.

After seeing the works in the collection’s headquarters on Sand Hill Road, we went to the Andersons’ home on the Peninsula, where the couple played gracious tour guides as we gawked at the walls, taking in the Rothkos and Gustons.

The guest bedroom was maybe a bit intense, with a half dozen paintings by Robert Motherwell.

As we entered the dining room, Anderson said, “I can have a feast without having a meal,” pointing to a wall bearing “Lucifer,” a large drip painting by Jackson Pollock.

Many of these works will be on display at the collection’s new Stanford museum starting next year — which will be free to all visitors. The Andersons will have plenty of art left to keep them company when the facility opens, though, with more than 800 pieces in their collection.

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