The Anderson Graphic Arts Collection

Vija Celmins (American, b. 1939). Strata (detail), 1982. Mezzotint. Printed by Doris Simmelink, published by Gemini, G.E.L., Los Angeles. Anderson Graphic Arts Collection, gift of the Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson Charitable Foundation, 1996.74.58

In 1996, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco received a gift of more than 650 American prints from the collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson and their daughter Mary Patricia Anderson Pence. Today, the Anderson Graphic Arts Collection spans over fifty years of print production, from 1953 to 2007, with outstanding examples of print processes like woodcut, intaglio, lithography, screenprint and monotype. To showcase the collection, the Anderson Gallery of Contemporary Graphic Art was unveiled at the Legion of Honor in 1997. The gallery, which features selections from the Anderson Collection in regularly scheduled exhibitions, moved to the de Young Museum in 2005, where it offers an opportunity to enhance the presentation of American art through a rotating display of works of art on paper. A complete exhibition history of the Anderson Gallery of Graphic Art can be viewed here.

The Andersons began collecting contemporary American prints in the late 1960s, a time often referred to as “the American printmaking renaissance.” They were part of an enthusiastic audience attracted to new and different kinds of prints coming from a handful of fine art publishing workshops such as Crown Point Press, Gemini G.E.L., and Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE), among others. Earlier in the decade these workshops had established themselves as places where artists of international reputation could explore their ideas in depth in environments that were open to technical experimentation. The prints produced there were beautifully crafted, visually exciting, and, in many cases, precedent setting.

The Fine Arts Museums are dedicated to pursuing an active collection-sharing program, which makes the Anderson Graphic Arts Collection accessible as a resource to museums and galleries throughout the western United States. Individual loans, self-organized exhibitions, and exhibitions previously presented at the Fine Arts Museums are available to small and mid-size institutions with no rental or participation fees. Please click here for additional information.