Leonard Baskin, who first gained recognition for his monumental woodcuts in the 1950s, enjoyed an artistic career that spanned the better part of the twentieth century and encompassed major accomplishments as a sculptor, printmaker, illustrator and book-maker. The second of Rabbi Samuel and wife May Guss Baskin's three children, Leonard Baskin was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on August 15, 1922. The family relocated to Brooklyn, New York, when Leonard was seven years of age. Baskin attended the Yale University School of Fine Arts on scholarship. While at Yale, he began printing and founded The Gehenna Press, which over the course of his lifetime issued over a hundred finely printed books of textual and artistic importance. Following three years of service in the United States Navy, Baskin traveled to France and Italy to study art under the GI Bill. In the 1950s, he began to receive recognition for his monumental woodcuts, the first of their size executed by any modern artist. Between 1953 and 1974, Baskin taught art at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was here, in 1958, that he made the acquaintance of British poet Ted Hughes, with whom he forged a lifelong friendship and collaborated on some thirty books. In 1974, the artist moved with his family to Lurley, in Devon, England, which brought him into closer proximity to Hughes. In 1983, Baskin returned with his family to the United States, and he became a Visiting Professor of Printmaking at Hampshire College in Leeds, Massachusetts. Baskin died in Northampton in 2000.
By permission of the Estate of Leonard Baskin. © Estate of Leonard Baskin