Leonard Baskin Gallery
A Select Biography
Leonard Baskin, America's premier sculptor, was an internationally acclaimed artist whose importance in the world of art cannot be overstated. A dominant figure in sculpture, fine book art, and painting for more than 40 years, Mr. Baskin was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.
The following is an excerpt from Angel to the Jews, by John Whitney Payson, 1991:
"Leonard Baskin was born in 1922, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to Rabbi Samuel Baskin and May Guss Baskin. Religious themes as well as mythological symbolism and images of human nature have been entwined throughout his career, serving as the subjects of many of his works. Baskin became intrigued by Greek history, philosophy and mythology at an early age and now the central object of many of his sculptures and paintings is the sibyl, the prophetic female from Greek mythology. Perhaps Baskin's best known image is the bird, either as subject matter in itself, or as a form of life emanating from humanity, as a caricature of perceived human ills.
"The link between Baskin's images is his humanism. His sculpture of the human figure depict the grace and mystery of woman, pay homage to man, the individual. Other works, in sculpture and on paper, portray the evil side of humankind. Although Baskin treats the frailties and injustice of humankind in all media, his caring for human beings and the human condition is ever present."
Baskin's sculpture, watercolors, and prints are in the permanent collections of most of the world's major art galleries and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Vatican Museum, and the Smithsonian. R. Michelson Galleries has an extensive collection of Leonard Baskin's powerful and moving sculpture, watercolors, fine art books, and prints.
Recent Highlights. . .
1994 - The dedication of the Holocaust Memorial sculpture in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
1993 - Public Television produced the film: "Unseemly Passions: A Visit with Leonard Baskin. " His illustrated children's book, Did You Say Ghosts (written by Richard Michelson) was selected as The New Yorker's Best Children's Book of the year.
1992 - A 50 year retrospective of Baskin's Gehenna Press Fine Press books traveled throughout the country including major exhibitions at The Grolier Club in New York and The Library of Congress in Washington.
Leonard Baskin was an American sculptor and printmaker known for his portrayals of the human body. He taught at Smith College from 1953 to 1974, then Amherst College from 1984 to 1994. Many of his woodcuts were used to demonstrate the uses of his Gehenna Press. While studying at Yale University, Baskin founded the Gehenna Press in 1944, which he named after a line from John Milton's Paradise Lost, "And black Gehenna called, the type of Hell." Upon his death in 2000, the Gehenna Press was the longest running privately owned press in the country. One of Baskin's best known prints, Man of Peace (WFU 30), is one of a series of large scale woodcuts he did for the Gehenna press. This print shows his wiry, linear drawing style. The man holds up a dead dove, which must be a peace offering, but barbed wire separates the man from whomever he is attempting to offer peace. Similar imagery is found in Picasso's prints for the Communist Party's World Conference in 1949 (Hults, 793).
Leonard Baskin was born in 1922. From an early age, he knew that he wanted to be