|Death Date: June 3, 2000
|Leonard Baskin, born in Brunswick, New Jersey, has been called one of the most intellectually provocative artists. His subject matter is taken from the world around him and the world of the past through his knowledge of history, philosophy and mythology. Son of a Rabbi, Baskin’s works dwell on religious themes, paying homage to man as an individual – treating the frailties and injustices of humankind with caring. Whether working with bronze or wood or two-dimensional mediums, his focus remained on large heroic, but flawed human beings who at times recall photographic images of concentration-camp victims or birds with human bodies that suggest mythological forms.
Baskin studied sculpture with Maurice Glickman at the Educational Alliance, New York City, from 1937 to 1943. He had many influences at that time including Ossip Zadkine, Henri Laurens, and Alexander Archipenko.
In 1949, he began to make wood engravings, and his attitude toward the nature of man grew more generalized, but no less moralistic or didactic. In style these works are closest to German Die Brucke prints. At this time he studied abroad at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, Paris, and the Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence. During this period, he got extensive familiarization with the Great European Collections, many which helped release in him the sculptural images he has since used.
For many years, he was a professor of sculpture at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.