Leonard Baskin Did You Say Ghosts?
Animals That Ought to Be Ten Times Better
Leonard Baskin was born on August 15, 1922, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of an orthodox rabbi. Baskin claimed that he was an atheist but themes of gods and religion were prevalent in many of his sculptures, woodcuts, prints, watercolors, and book covers and illustrations. He studied at New York University, Yale University, Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, Paris, and Accademia delle Belle Arti, in Florence.

While at Yale in 1942, Baskin founded the Gehenna Press, taking the name from a line in Milton's epic "Paradise Lost," "And black Gehenna call'd, the type of Hell." The Gehenna Press was considered one of the most important, comprehensive art presses in the world for more than 50 years.

Although he illustrated many children's books, it was for Hosie's Alphabet (Viking), written by his children Hosea, Tobias and Lisa, that he received a Caldecott Honor in 1973.

Leonard Baskin taught art at Smith College in Northampton from 1953 until 1974 and at Hampshire College in Amherst from 1984 until 1994. His work is in the permanent collection of many museums, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Vatican Museum, and the Smithsonian. On May 22, 1997, Leonard Baskin's bas relief of a funeral cortège, created for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, was dedicated in our nation's capital. He also designed the Woodrow Wilson memorial. Baskin was given many awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Gold Medal of the National Academy of Arts and Letters, the Medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the Jewish Cultural Achievement Award. Leonard Baskin died on June 3, 2000.

—Vicki Palmquist

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