Library of America notes with sadness the news that Robert Scudellari died last month at the age of 88. One of the foremost book designers of his generation, Scudellari created the distinctive Library of America series jacket in the early 1980s, bringing in Swedish calligrapher Gun Larson for a hand-drawn, artisanal touch that would distinguish each book. The first four volumes in the series were issued forty years ago in the spring of 1982, and reviewers were quick to praise the books’ signature, timeless look.
Library of America president and publisher Max Rudin: “Without Bob Scudellari’s jacket design, the perfect fusion of classic and contemporary, Library of America would not be Library of America. Bob was a brilliant designer who was also a kind and generous colleague and partner. We are extraordinarily lucky to have known him and worked with him.”
Gun Larson, whose calligraphy still graces each new release in the black-jacketed LOA series, added: “Bob meant a lot to me. I owe him thanks for nurturing my own career as a jacket designer and calligrapher for many U.S. publishers and especially for my long and rewarding relationship with Library of America.”
As Vice President and Corporate Art Director at Random House in the 1970s and ‘80s, Scudellari not only oversaw the art direction of several imprints such as Alfred A. Knopf, Pantheon Books, and the paperback Vintage line, but was also personally responsible for designing some of the most famous book jackets of the period, like The Stories of John Cheever (Knopf, 1978) with its large silver “C” set against a primary red backdrop.
The Graphic Design USA website has an appreciation of Scudellari’s career, with reproductions of some of his most famous jackets, here.