Maurice George Logan was born in 1886 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. From a young age – and to the dismay of his father – Logan wanted to become an artist. He took his first lessons at the age of ten and ended up attending art schools in San Francisco and Chicago. After opening a studio in San Francisco in 1915, Logan quickly established himself as a leading commercial artist and illustrator on the West Coast. In the same year, he helped form the “Society of Six,” a group of California painters challenging conventional painting by employing bold colors in combination with a loose impressionist style.
With his commercial success, he was hired by the San Francisco advertising agency Lord & Thomas in 1922 to produce a series of paintings and posters for the Southern Pacific Railroad. This relationship would continue for the next decade during which the talented artist created beautiful, unique artworks of famous parks and attractions in the western United States. Logan’s glorious images of Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake or Mt. Shasta were quickly associated in the public’s mind with Southern Pacific Rail.
While his earlier works were influenced by the German approach to poster design – simplifying the use of form, flat colors, and bold types – most of Logan’s poster works from the late 1920s are characterized perhaps by that loose form of impressionism with bold colors. Logan turned to watercolors in the 1930s and formed another influential art group called the “Thirteen Watercolorists.” He worked as an art instructor at the California College of Arts in Oakland. He lived in Orinda in the San Francisco East Bay where he passed away in 1977.
Many of the posters shown here are part of our 40th poster auction in San Francisco on November 7, 2015. The photos link to the online catalog.