Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Leonard Baskin was educated at the New York University School of Applied Arts and, after a stint in the United States navy, at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Travels in Europe in 1950 and 1951 were also of vital importance to his artistic development. Since his first exhibitions in the early 1950s, Baskin has pursued an active career in illustration, design, and sculpture.
Baskin’s work is represented in the collections of major museums in the United States and Europe, including the National Gallery of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His graphic art and sculpture have been shown in exhibitions in the United States, England, France, and Austria. He is also the recipient of numerous graphic-design awards, including the Special Medal of Merit from the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
Although sculpture has remained a major part of Baskin’s oeuvre, it was through graphic design that he originally gained renown. He has worked extensively with woodcuts, chiefly for book illustration. He is the founder of the Gehenna Press in Massachusetts and has been a major force in the revitalization of small American presses. Baskin’s posters and other graphic art are distinguished by a consistently powerful directness in exploring the full range of form and expression.
Therese Thau Heyman Posters American Style (New York and Washington, D.C.: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with the National Museum of American Art, 1998)