Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Leonard Baskin: Proofs and Process

Bloated Death Leonard Baskin... Bloated Death (1985, Ink and watercolor on Whatman paper, Signed, lower right, and dated, lower left). From the exhibition Leonard Baskin: Proofs and Process, October 9, 2007 - January 5, 2008 at Galerie St. Etienne in New York, NY. "...Leonard Baskin's many faces have made it difficult for the public to get a cohesive sense of his artistic achievement. Baskin himself encouraged this situation, not only by pursuing a multiplicity of different art forms with equal dedication and vigor, but by creating discrete cycles and series that tended to be exhibited or published as self-contained units. Yet there was remarkable continuity over his sixty-year career. Baskinís themes are for the most part interrelated, one to the other and across the various mediums that he employed to address them. Our fragmented view of his achievement is not really intrinsic to the work itself, but rather to the way in which it has been presented and received over the decades. Each of the mediums that Baskin chose - printmaking, book making, book illustration and sculpture - allowed the artist to recruit and engage his public directly. Baskin presented his work piecemeal, cultivating a slightly different audience for each component part, because he felt shut out of the mainstream art world. At a time when abstract formalism reigned supreme, he remained firmly committed to figurative humanism. It is perhaps only today, in an art world open to a wealth of traditions from all ages and all parts of the globe, that we can begin to see Baskin's accomplishments whole."

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