We returned to the new SFMOMA this week, after visiting the first installation in 2010, to view the new 10-story, Snohetta designed addition to the 1995 Mario Botta 5 story building. The public-private partnership created in 2009 with Doris and Donald Fisher, the founders of the Gap and Charles Schwab, the board chair of SFMOMA was the beginning of a third possibility for major collectors to share their masterpieces with the public. This expansion more than doubles its space and provides approximately 60,000 square feet for the Fisher Collection Galleries, featuring 260 works from their collection by 70 artists. The Fisher Collection includes over 1,100 works and will be shown for a minimum of 100 years. Under the terms of agreement, every ten years, another major exhibition from their collection will be installed in the Fisher Collection Galleries. It is stipulated that for the next 90 years it must include 75% of the Fisher works as well as works from SFMOMA’s collection and others.
The Fishers started collecting modern and contemporary in the 1970’s during my Sotheby’s years and they always collected artists in depth that they admired and befriended. This is seen in the various featured galleries including Chuck Close, Ellsworth Kelly, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella and Cy Twombly. In fact, with the 22 Richters from the Fisher collection and the 21 from SFMoma, the museum now boasts the single largest collection.
“Ed Ruscha the Great American West” at the de Young – Fine Arts Museum of SF includes 99 works documenting his 50 year career ranging from the early gasoline stations (“Standard”), LA film world (“Hollywood”) and his text based works using poured liquids, cut ribbons and spray paint.
Remembering the early contemporary art collectors from my Southey’s days, I recall meeting and advising the Andersons, a delightful, down to earth couple from Atherton, California.
Albert Elsen, the late professor of art history at Stanford University took Harry W Anderson and his wife Mary Margaret (known as Hunk and Moo) under his tutelage in the 1960’s after their visit to the Louvre and guided them in their initial purchases of major works of the New York School as well as the Bay Area artists. The Andersons always searched for ”the best of the best” and this extraordinary collection is the proof. They collected and donated many works over the years. Key works including Rauschenberg’s “Collection”, and Jasper Johns’s “Land’s End”, were given to the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1972, along with 30 works of Pop art by Oldenburg, Warhol in 1992 and 7 Stella paintings in 2001. However, their “core collection” remained in their ranch home. Their desire was to have a museum quality space dedicated to their collection. With the invitation of Stanford’s president John Hennessy, the wish was fulfilled. The 33,000 square foot building designed by Richard Alcott is a superb setting for their gift of 121 works by 86 artists that is permanently installed on the campus.