(1922 - 2000)
Leonard Baskin was a Jewish American multi-talented artist.
Born in 1922 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Baskin grew up in Brooklyn, New York. The son of a Rabbi, Baskin was educated
at a yeshiva (Jewish religious college), which had a profound effect
on his aesthetic. Committed to art at an early age, Baskin had his first
exhibition. of sculpture, at the Glickman Studio Gallery, New York,
at the age of seventeen. He studied at Yale University from 1941 to
1943 and received his B.A. at the New School for Social Research in
1949. Baskin spent 1950 and 1951 abroad, studying in Paris and Florence.
In 1953 he began teaching printmaking and sculpture at Smith College
in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1974. It was
while he was at Smith College that he founded Gehenna Press, a small
private press specializing in fine book production. Baskin became intrigued
by Greek history, philosophy and mythology at an early age and this
study inspired many of his sculptures and paintings
Leonard Baskin was one of the universal artists of
the 20th century. He was a sculptor of renown. He was a writer and illustrator
of books ranging from the bible to children's' stories and natural history.
He was a talented water-colourist and a superb, prolific print-maker.
His prints ranged from woodcuts through lithography and etching; his
subjects covered portraits, flower studies, biblical, classical and
mythological scenes. Baskins 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, the Smithsonian Institute and the Tate
Gallery in London. Among Baskin's many commissions are a bas relief
he made for the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and the Holocaust Memorial
statue erected on the site of the first Jewish cemetery in Ann Arbor,
Michigan. Baskin 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
Baskin was a noted philatelist and built an important
and eclectic collection of postage stamps.