Tuesday March 31, 2020 • 

In the middle of Left of Center: 
Student Curators Reflect on Their Experience Reinstalling the Anderson’s Permanent Collection – 

Ronald Davis - Spoke - Dodecagon at Stanford University

Ronald Davis’s Dodecagon, Spoke, at Stanford University’s Cantor Art Center. Included in the 2020 exhibition, “Left Of Center.”

Left of Center brought together the diverse interests of seven graduate-student curators who together worked to rehang the permanent collection at the Anderson Collection at Stanford University. In celebration of the fifth anniversary of the collection, the rehang was designed to reinvigorate the permanent collection galleries, creating fresh insights through new groupings of paintings, sculptures, and multimedia works. The Anderson’s robust collection of California-based and affiliated artists led us to settle on the theme of the West Coast as both a mythic place and an important site of art production in the 20th century.

See an interactive tour of the full exhibition.

The organization and research process, spearheaded by Amber Harper and co-curated by Linden Hill, Beatrice Simgasiewicz, Christian Whitworth, and Jennie Yoon, was highly collaborative. We first selected which pieces we wanted to include, rotating in works that had been in storage alongside mainstays of the collection, such as Jackson Pollock’s Lucifer, visited often by art history and studio art classes, and experimented with different arrangements of paintings and sculptures using the Anderson’s gallery model, a dollhouse-like construction that includes tiny versions of every artwork in the collection.

The co-curators then divided into small groups to curate thematic spaces in the exhibition. We both study Los Angeles art from the postwar period, so our section includes Light and Space art of the 1960s and 1970s. Many of these works, such as Ronald Davis’s Spoke and Billy Al Bengston’s Lux Lovely, have reflective surfaces, so one challenge was to come up with a floor plan that would minimize unwanted shadows and glares. Our curatorial decisions and wall labels written for the Los Angeles section highlighted the spirit of technological and material-based experimentation, as well as complemented the histories of American abstraction, which reverberate throughout the museum’s collection.

We hope the exhibition will allow visitors and students to see the collection from an alternative vantage point, with a renewed focus on the West Coast roots of sprawling 20th-century artistic movements. Alongside recent additions, including Moo Anderson’s generous gift of Pollock’s Totem Lesson 1 and Willem de Kooning’s Gansevoort Street, the works in Left of Center evidence the visual variance, playful sensibility, and ambitious scope of the Anderson Collection. Learn more about Left of Center.