Leonard Baskin: Gehenna Press Printwork
Leonard Baskin started printing at Yale in 1942 and produced the Gehenna Press’ first volume: a book of his own poems called On a Pyre of Withered Roses. When he passed away in 2000 The Gehenna Press was the longest continually running, privately owned press in American history, spanning nearly 60 years and producing over 100 books. These exquisite, hand crafted fine art books are some of the finest in the long history of printing. Baskin collaborated with many of the greatest poets of the 20th century including Ted Hughes, Anthony Hecht, James Baldwin, Archibald MacLeish, and Wilfred Owen, not to mention works by Shakespeare, Aesop, William Blake and others. Two Gehenna books: Semblant and Masks were collaborations with our own Richard Michelson. Leonard spearheaded the re-emergence of the fine art press in the American arts scene and inspired a generation of young printers. The Library of Congress held a one-man retrospective of the Press in 1992, the first of a living artist in its history.
“People like me who care about printing — the architecture of the page — constitute the tiniest lunatic fringe in the nation.” −LB