It was not until the emergence of the artist book in the 20th century that book bindings—a book’s front and back covers and spine—came to be appreciated as more than merely protective or decorative. In the early 1900s, any deluxe artist book—with original print illustrations by a well-known artist, printed on fine papers, and issued unbound in limited quantity—fairly cried out for a creative binding. Collectors of these elegant books often commissioned bookbinders to fabricate unique leather covers with original designs that evoked the spirit or mood of the book’s text or illustrations.
The books in this exhibition, selections from the Reva and David Logan Collection and a recent gift of Earl M. Collier Jr., provide an overview of creative book binding design from the period encompassing late Art Nouveau through Art Deco, and from the mid–20th century, when materials other than leather were introduced. Included are bindings by some of the great masters: Paul Bonet, Georges Cretté. Henri Creuzevault, Pierre Legrain, Marius Michel, and Francois-Louis Schmied.