Leonard Baskin (1922-2000)
Engraving, 17 1/2 x 14 3/4 inches
Pencil signed lower right, “Baskin”
Born in 1922 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Baskin was reared in Brooklyn, New York. The son of a prominent New Jersey rabbi, Baskin was first educated at a yeshiva (Jewish religious college), which had a fascinating effect on his aesthetics and, more importantly perhaps, his ethics. He went on to studies at Yale University from 1941 to 1943, and received his B.A. at the New School for Social Research in 1949.
In 1953 Baskin began teaching printmaking and sculpture at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1974. While at Smith he founded the Gehenna Press, a small private press specializing in fine book production, acknowledged as one of the most important in the world with numerous shows internationally, culminating in a traveling retrospective organized by the Library of Congress.
Leonard Baskin was one of the universal artists of the 20th century: a sculptor of renown; a writer and illustrator of books ranging from the bible to children’s’ stories and natural history; a talented water-colorist and draftsman; and a superb, prolific print-maker. His prints include early fine wood-engravings and the first oversize prints of the 20th century cut on actual doors; he created lithographs and etchings of portraits, flower studies, biblical, classical and mythological scenes.
Baskin’s works 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, the Smithsonian Institution and the Tate Gallery. Among Baskin’s many important public commissions are a bas-relief for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D. C., and the Holocaust Memorial on the site of the first Jewish cemetery in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He won many awards, including the Gold Medal of the National Academy of Arts and Letters, the Special Medal of Merit of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the Gold Medal of the National Academy of Design.