Hunk and Moo Anderson had one of the most sought after collections of American Contemporary art. The Andersons eventually donated some of the most significant works to Stanford University. Harry “Hunk” Anderson died earlier this year at 95. His wife, Mary Margaret “Moo”, continues to collect and is selling a number of works at Christie’s this November. The group includes works by artists David Smith, Alexander Calder, David Hockney, Vija Celmins, Martin Puryear, Philip Guston and Jasper Johns, among others, with a total estimate of $30-50m. The David Smith sculpture, Five Ciarcs has the top estimate of $10m. This David Hockney work, Sprungbrett mit Schatten (Paper Pool 14), is estimated at $6-8m which makes the work very attractive considering another paper pool from this same series was sold in May for $11.7m.
Here’s Christie’s on the Anderson collection:
In 2011, the Andersons made headlines when they donated some 121 masterworks—anchored in the work of the New York School—to Stanford University, constituting one of the most significant donations of fine art in American history. The depth and quality of the Anderson’s collection is a testament to not only Hunk and Moo Anderson’s curatorial vision, but to the power of art to impact people. “Each painting has been an event in our lives,” Hunk Anderson once remembered, “and luckily they’ve always been happy events.” Indeed, the spirit and joy of Hunk and Moo Anderson lives on in each work within their collection, a tangible legacy that continues to inspire.
The top lot of the collection is David Smith’s Five Ciarcs, 1963 (estimate in the region of $10 million.) One of the tallest sculptures that Smith ever produced, Five Ciarcs is a tour-de force of the artist’s sculptural practice. Standing at almost 13 feet tall, this conference of material, shape and form embodies the artist’s desire to create dramatic forms in space. Specifically designed to be placed in, and work in concert with, the landscape, the artist emphasized the voids and empty spaces within the body of the work. Executed just two years before the artist’s sudden death in 1965 and owned by the Anderson family ever since acquiring it directly from Smith’s estate, Five Ciarcs stands as a towering example of the artist’s unique body of work.
Also highlighting the Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale is Untitled by Alexander Calder. Executed in 1949, Untitled is an exquisite example of the artist’s early mobiles and sets the stage for larger constructions that would follow. This work also plays an essential role in illustrating Calder’s career-long interest in the crossover between performance and sculpture. Untitled is commonly referred to as Happy as Larry #1, deriving from the theatrical play of the same name, marking Calder’s continued interest in the realm of stage design. Working with director Burgess Meredith to construct sets that relied on his innate sense of balance and interest in simple but bold forms, the artist went on to create a number of pieces for the stage. Untitled is a prime example of Calder’s collaborative output during this era.
Sharp and Flat, Martin Puryear’s masterful sculpture created out of golden colored pine, is a powerful and commanding work from 1987 – pictured right. Part of a series of largescale figures which he debuted that year, its enigmatic form, alluring—almost tactile— surface and extraordinary execution blurs the traditional boundaries of natural and man- made forms. Traditional European, African and American forms are carefully blended with the modern—most notably those of Constantin Brâncuși, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, and Marcel Duchamp—which are, in turn, all filtered through the artist’s unique personal vision. An important work from this pivotal period of his career, Sharp and Flat was selected by curator John Elderfield for inclusion in the artist’s 2007 seminal retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and subsequently traveled with the exhibition to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art over the next two years. Puryear will represent the United States at the 58th Venice Biennale in Spring 2019.
The collection will be represented in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Morning Session, with a dedicated grouping of Masterworks on Paper from the Private Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson. This capsule collection encompasses a dynamic range of works on paper as well as prints and multiples, a medium that holds great import within the Anderson’s collecting narrative. Leading this selection is David Hockney’s A Visit with Mo and Lisa, Echo Park, 1984. Measuring nearly 17-feet across, this work was influenced in part, by the artist’s interest in traditional Chinese scrolls and their expansive way of depicting space without the use of perspective. Hockney believed that exploring the painting without the constraints of single point perspective, allowed the viewer to immerse themselves in the composition. Painted in 1984, the present work was conceived immediately before what is widely considered to be one of the artist’s major paintings of the period, A Visit with Christopher and Don, Santa Monica Canyon, 1984 (Sykes, Hockney: The Biography 1975-2014, 2014).
It is with paintings such as these that all of the important themes in Hockney’s work—landscapes, domestic interiors and, to some extent, portraiture—are combined. Hockney will also represent the Anderson’s collection in the Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale with Sprungbrett mit Schatten (Paper Pool 14).
Masterworks on Paper from the Private Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson, also encompasses a very important group of Prints and Multiples, led by Corpse and Mirror, 1976, an exceptional screenprint by Jasper Johns. In the large-scale, technically complex masterwork Corpse and Mirror, a kaleidoscopic array of diagonal colors in primary hues of red, yellow and blue displays the artist at the height of his powers. Resulting from thirty-six different screens, Corpse and Mirror displays an exuberant field of bright, rich and joyous color whose simplicity belies the technical complexity of its creation. Corpse and Mirror is one of three prints based on Johns’ 1974 painting of the same name; its title refers to the drawing game favored by the Surrealists called “exquisite corpse.”