Leonard Baskin (American, August 15, 1922–June 3, 2000) was a sculptor, wood-engraver, book-illustrator, graphic artist, writer, and teacher. Born in New Brunswick, NJ, Baskin was educated at a Jewish Religious College, and his education had a great influence on his work. Baskin experimented with art at a young age and had his first solo exhibition in 1939 at the Glickman Studio Gallery in New York. Baskin studied at Yale University between 1941 and 1943. In 1949, he received his BA degree from the New School for Social Research in New York. He spent the next two years abroad studying in Paris and Florence. Between 1953 and 1974, he taught sculpture and printmaking at Smith College in Northampton, MA. Baskin inspired the Printmaking movement. He was not only outstanding at printmaking, but also taught the art at college.

While in Yale, Baskin founded Gehenna Press, a private press that specialized in producing Fine prints ranging from woodcuts and lithography to etching. Baskin collaborated with many artists and writers including his friend Ted Hughes (British, 1930–1998), with whom he published the book Crow in 1970. He won many awards for his prints, including the special medal of merit of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the gold medal of the National Academy of Design, and the gold medal of the National Academy of Arts and Letters. His watercolors, prints, and sculptures can be found in the permanent collections of major international museums and art galleries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Vatican Museum, in the Vatican City, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. In 1994, he was honored with a 52-year old retrospective at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Baskin inspired a new generation of print makers at Smith College and also at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, with his prolific production of Fine prints. He will be remembered for some of the sculptures that he commissioned to the public, including the bronze statue erected at the Holocaust Memorial in Ann Arbor, MI, and the sculptures for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Woodrow Wilson Memorial, both in Washington, D.C. Baskin died in 2000 at the age of 77.

Timeline

1922
Born August 15, New Brunswick, NY
1929–1938
Studied at Yeshiva, Brooklyn, NY
1939–1940
Studied at New York University School of Architecture and Allied Arts
1940
Recieved Honorable mention for sculpture, Prix de Rome
1941–1943
Scholarship, Yale University School of Fine Arts New Haven, CT
1943–1946
Served in the United States Navy
1947
Recieved Tiffany Foundation Fellowship for Sculpture
1949
BA, New School for Social Research New York, NY
1950
Studied Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, Paris, France
1951
Studied Accademia di Belle Arte, Florence
1953
Recieved Guggenheim Fellowship
1954
Recieved Ohara Prize, National Museum of Tokyo,
1961
Recieved National Institute of Arts and Letters Grant,
1961
Recieved Mather Prize, Art Institute of Chicago,
1965
Recieved Widener Medal, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts,
1965
Recieved Special Medal of Merit, American Institute of Graphic Arts,
1966
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, The New School New York, NY
1969
Recieved Medal, National Institute of Arts and Letters,
1973
Skowhegan Gold Medal for Graphics Skowhegan, ME
1985
Honorary DFA, Portland School of Art Portland, OR
1987
Honorary LHD, University of Judaism Los Angeles, CA
1995
Recieved Cultural Achievement in the Arts Award, National Foundation for Jewish Culture,
1997
Honorary Degree, Springfield College Springfield, MA
2000
Died

Exhibitions

2008
NaturPapier, KunsGarten, Graz
2007
Graphic Force, Humanist Vision, Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR (solo)
Madea and Her Sisters: Leonard Baskin's Images of Women, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA (solo)
Clear Cut, Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
Art Inspires Music: Interdisciplinary Gallery Project 3, ASU Art Museum, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ
Framed: The Art of the Portrait, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, ON
2006
Leonard Baskin: Portrait Prints and the Gehenna Press, Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN (solo)
More than Coffee was Served, Galerie St. Etienne, New York, NY
New Acquisitions: Prints, ASU Art Museum, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, AZ
Spotlight, Thomas Deans Fine Art, Atlanta, GA
2005
Currents: Twenty-Five Years of Collecting Modern and Contemporary Prints, Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, Evanston, IL
2004
Leonard Baskin: Creatures of Darkness, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC (solo)
Leonard Baskin: Two Portfolios, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK (solo)
Objects of Our Desire: Sculpture from the Sheldon, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln, NE
2003
DeCordova Collects: Gifts from Stephen and Sybil Stone, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA
2002
Images of Nature, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2001
Leonard Baskin, McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, ON (solo)
The Modern Woodcut, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
2000
Leonard Baskin: Monumental Prints, The de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA (solo)
1998
Leonard Baskin: 1947-1998, Hunter Museum of Art Chattanooga, TN
1994
Caprices, Grotesques and Homages: Leonard Baskin and The Gehenna Press, Library of Congress Washington, DC
1991
Angels to the Jews, Midtown Payson Gallery New York, NY
1984
The Albertina Vienna, Austria
1970
National Museum of American Art/The Smithsonian Washington, DC
1968–1969
XXXIV International Bienniel Exhibition of Art, Venice, Italy
1962
The Royal Watercolour Society/St. George's Gallery London, England
1958
Pasadena Art Museum Pasadena, CA
1939
Glickman Studio Gallery New York, NY