print of a gas station in reds, oranges, and blues

Ed Ruscha, Standard Station, 1966. Color screenprint, 25 5/8 x 40 in. Published by Audrey Sabol, Villanova, PA. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund, 2000.131.5.1 © Ed Ruscha

About the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts

The Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts (AFGA) is the department responsible for works of art on paper: prints, drawings, and artist books. Selections from the collection are exhibited in rotating exhibitions in specially designated galleries at the de Young and Legion of Honor. Much of the collection is available for research and study by appointment in the George and Leanne Roberts Seminar Room. 

The department is named for Moore and Hazel Achenbach, who gave the bulk of their collection to the city of San Francisco in 1948 and the remainder upon Mr. Achenbach’s death in 1963. When they formed the collection, the Achenbachs intended that it would cover the entire development of the graphic arts, from the 15th century to the present day. Through gifts, purchases, and the generous support of additional donors, AFGA curators have worked steadily to realize this goal, filling in gaps and moving the collection forward into the 21st century. Many of these acquisitions form the basis for special collections within the department, such as the Anderson Collection of Graphic Arts, the Reva and David Logan Collection of Artist Illustrated Books, and theater and dance materials. The department is also the repository of a number of living archives, including the archives of Crown Point Press and Paulson Fontaine Press in the Bay Area, and the graphic works of LA–based artist Ed Ruscha. Today, with more than 90,000 works of art, AFGA is the largest repository of works of art on paper in the western United States.

The department is supported in part by the Achenbach Graphic Arts Council (AGAC), which offers a variety of programs focusing on the world of works on paper. Learn more about the AGAC.

  • Crown Point Press Archive

    Crown Point Press, founded in Berkeley, California in 1962 and now located in San Francisco, is one of America’s leading contemporary print publishers. Kathan Brown, the press’s founder, has been instrumental in reviving etching — a traditional intaglio technique — for contemporary printmaking. Over the past six decades, the press has been a pioneering force in the print space, working with artists like Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Sol LeWitt, Julie Mehretu, and Wayne Thiebaud. In 1991, we acquired the Crown Point Press Archive, which consists of one impression of every print the press has ever produced (usually Artist Proof 6), as well as many working proofs, preparatory drawings, plates, and other materials. The collection now numbers over 5,000 prints and continues to grow. View the archive here.

    Abstract combination of yellow, green, and grey

    Richard Diebenkorn (1922–1993), Ochre, 1983. Color woodcut, 27 7/16 x 38 5/16 in. (69.7 x 97.3 cm) (sheet). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Crown Point Press Archive, gift of Crown Point Press, 1991.28.675
    © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

  • Ed Ruscha Archive

    Often identified with Pop art, Ed Ruscha (b. 1937) is one of the most significant figures in postwar American painting and contemporary graphic arts. Spurred by our mission to uplift the work of California-based creatives, in 2000, with funding from Mrs. Paul L. Wattis, we acquired Ruscha’s complete graphic archive. At the time, it consisted of 325 editioned prints and approximately 800 working proofs. We continue to receive an impression of every editioned print, photograph, or other editioned project that Ruscha undertakes. View the archive here.

    Ed Ruscha screenprint in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco collections

    Edward Ruscha, Standard, Amarillo, Texas, from the portfolio Gasoline Stations (detail), 1962 (printed 1989). Gelatin Silver Print, Sheet: 19 1/2 x 23 in (495 x 584 mm); Image: 10 5/16 x 10 7/8 in (262 x 276 mm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund, 2000.131.158.8

  • Paulson Fontaine Press Archive

    In 2016 we acquired the archive of Paulson Fontaine Press, based in Berkeley, California. Founded in 1996 by Pam Paulson and Renée Bott, the press continues to host artists outside the mainstream, actively working against the systemic marginalization of women and artists of color within the printmaking space. The press has developed innovative approaches to traditional intaglio printing, bringing to life the visions of a diverse group of creators, including Martin Puryear and Gee’s Bend quilters Mary Lee Bendolph and Louisiana Bendolph. We continue to receive one of every edition the press publishes. View the archive here.

    Multicolored, crisscrossing lines

    Alicia McCarthy (b. 1969), Untitled (Z.P.R.R.A.Y.) (102) (detail), 2016. Color sugar-lift aquatint, aquatint, drypoint and flatbite, 40 1/2 x 44 in. (102.9 x 111.8 cm), Image: 36 x 40 in. (91.4 x 101.6 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Paulson Fontaine Press, 2018.54.37 © Alicia McCarthy

  • The Anderson Graphic Arts Collection

    In 1996 Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson and their daughter Mary Patricia Anderson Pence donated 650 American prints to our collection of works on paper. The family began collecting contemporary American prints in the late 1960s from workshops such as Crown Point Press, Gemini G.E.L., and Universal Limited Art Editions. The Anderson Graphic Arts Collection spans over 50 years of print production (1953 – 2007), with outstanding examples of contemporary printing methods. It includes works by Vija Celmins, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg, among many others. View the collection here and visit Google Arts and Culture to learn more.

    Dots of luminous color surrounding a white center

    Sam Francis, Yunan, State II (detail), 1971. Published by Gemini G.E.L. Color lithograph, 26 x 38 1/2 in. (66 x 97.8 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Anderson Graphic Arts Collection, gift of the Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson Charitable Foundation, 1996.74.119. ©️ Sam Francis Foundation, California / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

  • The Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books

    Over the course of 20 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 Museums in 1998. The Logans favored French books by School of Paris artists up to 1960 and also collected contemporary books, 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). The Logans also collected artists’ books from the Russian, German, and Italian avant-garde. Pablo Picasso was a particular favorite, and today the collection contains more than 70 of the artist’s 156 books. It also contains a formidable collection of books by Ilia Zdanevich (known as Iliazd); learn more about Iliazd. Selections from the Logan collection, now consisting of more than 400 books dating from the 19th century to the present, are regularly used in exhibitions in the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Illustrated Books at the Legion of Honor. View the collection here.

    Woodcut from the Reva David Logan collection

    Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (German, 1880–1938). Umbra Vitae: Nachgelassene Gedichte (detail) by Georg Heym (Munich: Kurt Wolff Verlag, 1924). Book with 47 color woodcuts. Printed by Spamerschen Buchdruckerei, Leipzig, published by Kurt Wolff Verlag, Munich. Gift of the Reva and David Logan Foundation, 1998.40.64.1-47

  • Theater and dance

    Inspired by her friendship with the groundbreaking American dancer Loïe Fuller, Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, cofounder of the Legion of Honor, began collecting sculptures, drawings, and designs for ballet and opera. She had a particular interest in works related to Serge Diaghilev’s famed Ballets Russes troupe (active 1909 – 1929). Donated to the Legion of Honor through two gifts in 1959 and 1962, these works form the foundation of the theater and dance collection. Through acquisitions and gifts from San Francisco collectors, it has grown to become one of the leading collections of theater and dance material in the United States. Encompassing the modern history of dance and performing arts, the collection features costume designs and sets by renowned artists Alexandre Benois, Léon Bakst, and Natalia Goncharova, as well as painters and designers who applied their talents to the stage. View the collection here.

    Stage design watercolor in theater and dance collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

    Alexandre Golovine (Russian, 1863–1930). Stage set design for act 1 of the opera Orphée (detail), 1926. Opaque watercolor on panel. Theater and Dance Collection, gift of Mrs. Adolph B. Spreckels. T&D1962.30