Stanford arts don't take a break

Cantor Arts Center and the Anderson Collection at Stanford University are open over the holiday season. Closed only on Tuesdays, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

The end of the calendar year is a time for first and last chances at the Cantor Arts Center, and the opportunity to revisit favorite works across campus.

Loose in Some Real Tropics: Robert Rauschenberg's "Stoned Moon" Projects, 1969–70 opens at the Cantor on Saturday, Dec. 20, and runs through Mar. 16, 2015. In 1969, American artist Robert Rauschenberg was invited by the NASA Art Program to document the launch of Apollo 11, the first manned spaceflight to the moon. Rauschenberg produced Stoned Moon, a series of large-format lithographs replete with scenes of astronauts, complex machinery and various regional ephemera. The exhibition features 13 of the Stoned Moon lithographs together with 20 rarely seen collages and drawings, photographs of the artist visiting NASAeds facilities, correspondence between the artist and the NASA Art Program and more.

Also new to the Cantor is Sensual Splendor: Medieval Art from the Cantor Collection, through Mar. 30, 2015. An exquisite group of medieval icons, funerary portraiture and textiles from Byzantium, the Latin West and Islam evoke the sensually saturated spaces of religious and secular ceremonies. The curricular exhibition was created by Bissera Pentcheva, associate professor of art and art history, to function as a lab for her winter quarter students to test and examine different approaches to presenting objects.

With the exhibition, Pentcheva explores the questions, what happens when we see works or art in a culturally and aesthetically sympathetic environment? And how does the flicker of light or sound or smell enhance a viewing experience?

Sunday, Jan. 4, is your last chance to walk through Richard Serra's Sequence on Cantor's north lawn. Arriving in the summer of 2011 as a loan from the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, the work is headed to the expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which opens in 2016. The monumental sculpture measures 67 feet long, 42 feet wide and 13 feet high, and is composed of contoured steel and weighs more than 200 tons. It is considered one of Serra's greatest achievements. Transporting it to Stanford required a dozen wide-body flatbed trucks and specialists in the rigging of objects on this massive scale. The deinstallation process promises to be equally complex. The best views will be from the second-story windows of the Cantor or the Anderson Collection at Stanford University.

Jan. 5 is the last day of Robert Frank in America at the Cantor. The exhibition of 130 photographs sheds new light on the making of influential photographer Robert Frank's provocative book, The Americans. Frank traveled the nation between 1955 and 1956 for this project. His images document subjects such as Hollywood (seen both from within the studio and from the fans' perspective) and the Ford Motor Company plant in Detroit, while probing social issues such as politics, race, religion and postwar consumer culture.

The exhibition, which includes photographs from the book as well as many unknown and unfamiliar pictures, explores a rich body of work that remains largely hidden more than half a century after it was made.

In addition to the new and closing exhibitions, there are several ongoing special exhibitions at the Cantor – from Chinese landscapes to Pop art to Robert Arneson's clay works – as well as 4,000 years of art represented in the permanent collections.

Visiting the Anderson Collection at Stanford University over the holidays may still be a first for some, but for others, it's already a campus favorite. The collection of postwar modern and contemporary American art opened to the public in September and 104 of the gifted 121 works of the collection are currently on view in the second-floor galleries. The temporary photography exhibition Peaceful Presence: Leo Holub and the Artist Portrait Project in the first-floor Wisch Family Gallery features portraits of 55 of the artists whose work is on view. The exhibition presents a range of images, from formal portraits to candid shots that shed light on the practices and creative processes of their influential subjects.

In the mid-1980s, the Andersons commissioned Leo Holub (1916–2010), a beloved Stanford professor who had founded the university's photography program in 1969, to take photographs of the artists whose work was then featured in the family's collection. Over the next 10 years, Holub traveled around the country, visiting the studios and galleries of more than 110 artists and quietly capturing each of them with a 6 by 7 cm Mamiya camera. Characterized by Holub as "one of the highlights of my life," the project culminated with the publication of a four-volume portfolio, produced in an edition of two, from which this exhibition is drawn. The photographs themselves and Holub's stories of his experience making them remain an integral part of the Anderson family's collection.

Finally, there is an abundance of art across campus accessible 365 days a year. From the Rodin Sculpture Garden outside of the Cantor Arts Center, to the Papua New Guinea sculptures and the new Windhover labyrinth on the south side of campus, to Mark di Suvero's monumental steel work Miwok in front of the School of Medicine. There are more than 85 works of art on campus that are viewable every day.

Admission to the Cantor and Anderson Collection is free. Holiday hours are:

Wednesday–Monday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Thursday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
Tuesday, closed
Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Christmas Day, Dec. 25, closed
New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
New Year's Day, Jan. 1, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Additional information: Cantor Arts Center