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.