|The New Crocker Museum|
Architect: Gwathmey and Associates
|The Old Crocker Museum|
Crocker was a successful lawyer and judge in Sacramento in 1864 when he agreed to serve as legal counsel for the Central Pacific Railroad Company, a company organized by Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington, and Edwin's brother, Charles Crocker—the "Big Four" railroad barons. From the fortunes they built, Stanford, Huntington, and Judge Crocker all invested in substantial collections of art, including works by California artists. The family of Mark Hopkins later donated their mansion to serve as a home for the California School of Design.
In June of 1869, Judge Crocker suffered a stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed for the rest of his life. He retired from the railroad business and pursued other interests. These interests included renovation of the family's newly-purchased home, commissioning an art gallery building, and embarking on a Grand Tour to Europe with his family from 1869 to 1871. The art they collected during that tour shaped the museum's European collection, which focuses on Central European painting of the 19th century, Dutch and Flemish 16th and 17th-century painting, and Italian Baroque painting (which I didn't see). Only a small percentage of these could be classed as "masterpieces," but the paintings by lesser-known artists have a generally high quality.
Central European painting of the 19th century
|Gustav Adolph Friedrich, 1824-1889|
Saxon Farm Yard, 1870
|Pieter Brueghel II, 1564-1638|
Peasant Wedding Dance, 1624
|Gerrit van Honthorst, 1590-1656|
Allegory of Painting, 1648
|Willem Claesz. Heda, 1594-1680|
Still Life, n.d.
19th century Dutch Paintings
The museum has since built upon and expanded these core areas, most significantly through a collection of 19th century Dutch paintings.
|Hendrik Willem Mesdag, 1831-1915|
Marine Scene with Fishing Boats on a Calm Sea, n.d.
19th Century American Art
They have acquired a mixed but high quality group of works by American artists.
|Birger Sandzén, 1871-1954|
Pines and Aspen, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 1929
|Agnes Pelton, 1881-1961|
|Moses Soyer, 1899-1974|
20th Century Art
|Paul Jenkins, b. 1923|
Phenomena Intervening Mantle, 2006
|Jim Dine, b. 1935|
The Blossom, 1985
|Luis Jimenez, 1940-2006|
Progress II, 1976
|Luis Jimenez, 1940-2006|
Detail of Progress II, 1976
|Charles Krafft, b. 1947|
AK-47 and Grenade, 1999
The Art of California
|Wayne Thiebaud, b. 1920|
River Intersection, 2010
Thanks to later benefactors, the museum also has one of the largest international ceramics collections, as well as collections of Asian, African, and Oceanic art; we skipped all that.
The museum was transformed into an important art destination in 2010 when they opened a large new building designed by Gwathmey and Associates, in a style much influenced by Richard Meier. The additional space gave them a chance to show their collection to good advantage.
In addition, the museum now has space for special exhibitions. When we were there, they had two shows of art that has influenced the culture of California.
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art
This show came from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It considers the contributions of Latino artists to American art and culture from the mid-20th century to the present.
|Carlos Almaraz, 1941-1989|
Night Magic (Blue Jester), 1988
Arte Mexicano: Legacy of the Masters
This was a smaller exhibit of Mexican artists active in the U.S. and Mexico throughout the 20th century; apparently the Crocker drew this show together.
I was particularly happy to see these two works by women surrealists.
|Leonora Carrington, 1917-2011|
Dos Personajes, 1965
|Remedios Varo, 1908-1963|
Vampiros Vegetarianos, 1962
These two works break any stereotypes about Mexican art.
|Gunther Gerzso 1915-2000|
Illusionary Landscape, 2000
|Ricardo Marines de Hoyos, 1918-2009|
The Smokers, 1956
Leaving Sunnyvale around 9:30, we got to Sacramento just in time for lunch in the museum's cafeteria. The food service is limited, but the seating area is spacious and lovely. The afternoon sped by as we hurried about trying to recognize and record the good stuff. When they closed the doors, we spent some time enjoying the pretty park out front. Sacramento has some class. It's a worthy tourist destination for any Californian, and a must for art-lovers.