Leonard Baskin: Sculpture

Leonard Baskin’s main focus throughout his life was sculpture: “My sculptures are memorials to ordinary human beings, gigantic monuments to the unnoticed dead: the exhausted factory worker, the forgotten tailor, the unsung poet… Sculpture at its greatest and most monumental is about simple, abstract, emotional states, like fear, pride, love and envy… Over the years I have developed a series of images of predatory birds and vicious human beings as well as producing a bizarre motley of iconic devices that say…BASKIN!”

Bronze Sculptures

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Memorial

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial was unveiled in 1997 by President Clinton and stands at the edge of the cherry tree walk on the Tidal Baskin. Baskin’s funeral cortege, a 30ft long bronze relief at the last room of the memorial, shows a horse-drawn casket followed by mourners. Baskin said of Roosevelt “he was the first person I ever voted for and the only person I ever voted for who got in. He was the last great president this country has had.” While the actual funeral roped off the mourners to either side of the road and the horse-drawn casket was followed by limousines and official delegations, Baskin decided to let the “common people” take their proper place in the procession. When interviewed at the unveiling he said of his motivation, “Just think of the wars around the world right now. . . Such a happy time we are living in? What should I do? Still life of grapes and mussels? No.”


Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Funeral Cortege Maquette, 12 x 58 in, bronze relief


Ann Arbor Holocaust Memorial

On the site of the First Jewish Cemetery in Michigan stands the Ann Arbor Holocaust Memorial, a 7-foot seated figure with a fist over its face and a hand raised to the sky. “It’s ambivalent,” said Baskin, “The figure is in some sort of misery, wrapped up entirely in himself.”

Holocaust Figure 1 27×20 in
Artwork © The Estate of Leonard Baskin | Reproduction without express written consent is prohibited