Over the course of forty years, Chicago collectors Reva and David Logan assembled one of the most important private collections of modern artist illustrated books, which they gave to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco beginning in 1998. They began their collection with the purchase of Joan Miró’s classic book, À toute épreuve by Paul Éluard (Geneva: Gérald Cramer, 1958), which they spotted while browsing through a photography catalog in the 1970s. The Logans favored French books of the School of Paris up to 1960 and also collected American books of the past thirty years, building a collection made up primarily of modern livres d’artists (collaboratively produced volumes that combine text with original graphic art, executed and printed under the artist’s supervision). Pablo Picasso was a particular favorite of the Logans, and today the collection contains more than seventy of the artist’s 156 books including the calligraphically striking Le Chant des Morts by Pierre Reverdy (Paris: Tériade, 1948). The Logans also collected artists’ books from the Russian, German, and Italian avant garde including El Lissitzky’s Dlia Golosa by Vladimir Mayakovsky (Berlin, Gosizdat, 1923) and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Umbra Vitae by Georg Heym (Munich: Kurt Wolff Verlag, 1924).
Selections from the Logan collection, now comprised of more than 300 books dating from the nineteenth century to the present, are regularly used in exhibitions in the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Illustrated Books at the Legion of Honor. Recent exhibitions featured in this gallery include Aspects of Mount Fuji in Japanese Illustrated Books from the Arthur Tress Collection, Kenneth Patchen: Painted Books and Picture-Poems, and Vollard, Editeur: Illustrated Books Published by the Legendary French Art Dealer.