The Making of



April 15, 2022

Leonard Baskin (American, 1922-2000) first gained notoriety through printmaking, a practice he maintained throughout his career – though many know him now as a sculptor.  In addition, he founded the Gehenna Press and collaborated with artists, writers, and other presses to produce artists’ books and bound publications.  This exhibition focuses on Baskin’s prints, in which creatures, human and otherwise, embody themes of morality and mortality as seen in his haunting portraits and satirical personifications of death.

As the son of a rabbi, later self-identifying as a “believing atheist,” Baskin’s Jewish upbringing influenced his approach to tradition and scholarship, to the tensions between the mundane and the extraordinary, and between the mythical and the actual. Ever the intellectual, Baskin drew upon myth and poetry in his individual and collaborative pieces.  Despite his respect for tradition, Baskin frequently challenged artistic norms with compositional spaces that uniquely frame his subject matter, often breaking the picture plane. His depictions of figures confront the viewer with what it means to embody the inner experience within the human frame.

Generous gifts by Barbara Waal and Chris Vinyard along with recent purchases have enhanced the Muscarelle’s existing collection of Baskin’s two-dimensional work.  Swem Library’s Special Collections Research Center also contributed selected examples of Baskin’s published works.














This exhibition has been curated by the following students in
The Curatorial Project, a spring 2022 course taught by
Charles Palermo, Professor of Art History:

Alice Baughman ‘24
Gabrielle Buffaloe ‘23
Isobel Collins ‘24
Ivana Genov ‘23
Carter Helmandollar ‘22
Yijun Huang ‘22
Emma Jackson ‘24
Ellie Kurlander ‘24
Maeve Marsh ‘23
Miles Piontek ‘23
Anna Scott ‘24
Tara Vasanth ‘23
Donovan Watters ‘23
Anna Wilkinson ‘24

This exhibition has been funded, in part,
by the Department of Art & Art History, the Tack Fund for the Visual Arts,
the Muscarelle Museum of Art Board Exhibition Endowment,
The Ralph and Doris Piper Lamberson Memorial Endowment Fund,
and the Gene A. and Mary A. Burns Bequest.

Photos by Adriano Marinazzo