Four Artists’ Portraits
Leonard Baskin (08/15/1922-06/03/2000) was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Baskin is known as a sculptor, printmaker, woodcutter and teacher. He spent his youth in Brooklyn, New York, and studied at New York University (1939-41), Yale University (1941-43), the New School for Social Research (1949), the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere (1950), the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence (1951), and privately with Maurice Glickman. Between 1943 and 1946 he served in the United States Navy. His earlier work is characterized by black and white simplicity. Later, in the early 1940's he decided to incorporate vibrant colors in the majority of his works. During this time Baskin established his own printing press, called 'Gehinna Press', in order to publish works in small edition numbers, which featured the poets of his choice, most notably, William Blake, Archibald MacLeish, and James Baldwin. These editions are notable for their fine, hand-made paper, brightly hued inks, and ornate embellishments. Baskin has been honored with a plethoral of awards including an Honorable Mention for the Prix de Rome in 1940. In 1947 he won a L.C. Tiffany Grant, and he received the Pennell award from the Library of Congress. In 1953 he was awarded with a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has received numerous other awards and has exhibited his work in shows around the world, including a celebrated one-man show at the Library of Congress in 1981, which largely featured his printing and woodcuts, a great deal of the subject matter consisting of predatory birds. Since then his work has been displayed in such venues as Boston's Art Institute, and Tokyo's Hiro Gallery. Baskin's color lithography was featured in an exhibition entitled "Native Americans: The Second Series," at the Dorothy McRae Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, during the fall of 1994. His work is permanently on show at such venues as the Art Institute of Chicago, Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Vatican Museums, Brooklyn Museum, and Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Toward the end of his life, he devoted the majority of his artistic endeavors to sculpture, which he claimed is the "most difficult of the arts."