A day after Harry and Mary Margaret Anderson gave Stanford the biggest single outright art gift made outright to an institution in several years, questions remained about how exactly the whole story would play out. Among them:
- What did the Andersons give to Stanford? No one involved offered a checklist yesterday. Instead, a public relations firm apparently hired by the university distributed a list of 19 works, or 16 percent of the gift. [Including the painting at right: Joan Mitchell, Before, Again IV, 1985.] That could have played a role in the oddly light coverage the news attracted. (Also, Stanford and its PR firm gave the story first to the San Francisco Chronicle, thus guaranteeing it’s-been-done-ism at other outlets.)
- Stanford said it would build a building for the Anderson collection — the Anderson Gallery — and that the work would be on view there by late 2014. That’s fast. So where’s the building going? (Stanford: near the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, the under-construction Bing Concert Hall and the planned McMurtry Building for Art and Art History, which is a little unspecific.) Who will be the architect? Who knows. Among the architects Stanford has recently commissioned are Norman Foster, Robert A.M. Stern and, for the McMurtry Building, Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
- In a related story, suddenly the two most interesting new-museum building projects are at universities: Steven Holl’s ICA for Virginia Commonwealth University and the Anderson Gallery. (Also in the ballpark but already underway: Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum.) As projects like the Hirshhorn’s proposed bubble struggle to attract dollars, do universities have an advantage when it comes to fundraising for significant projects during a period of slow national economic recovery?
- What kind of museum will the Anderson Gallery be? Will it show 121 works and that’s it? Will it be a more traditional museum with a permanent collection installation and an exhibition series? Who will run it?
- What will happen to Stanford’s Cantor Center? Many major universities have major museums or significant kunsthalles. See Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Ohio State, Oberlin, Princeton, UC Berkeley and so on. The Cantor Center has a nice collection of late 20th-century mostly California art, but it’s not even a regional university museum power. Director Thomas K. Seligman announced his retirement earlier this year. Especially considering that the Cantor’s collection strength overlaps with the Anderson collection, will Stanford reconsider what the Cantor is or should be? Does it make sense to have two ‘competing’ art museums next to each other?