Galerie St. Etienne
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LEONARD BASKIN: Proofs and Process
October 9, 2007, through January 5, 2008
The Galerie St. Etienne’s principal exhibition of the fall season features an in-depth reexamination of the renowned American artist Leonard Baskin (1922-2000). LEONARD BASKIN: Proofs and Process will explore the artist’s working methods through sequences of interrelated proofs and an extensive survey of rarely seen monoprints. The prints will be complemented by a selection of sculptures, watercolors and drawings on kindred themes. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the International Fine Print Dealers Association’s annual fair (Park Avenue Armory, November 1-4) and marks the Galerie St. Etienne’s debut as one of the Baskin estate’s official representatives. A reception and gallery talk will take place at St. Etienne on November 1 from 6 to 8 PM.
Leonard Baskin, like his favorite artists Käthe Kollwitz and Ernst Barlach, sensed a tactile affinity between sculpting, carving and printmaking, and he moved effortlessly among these mediums. Like Kollwitz in particular, he was drawn to themes involving social justice, and he used printmaking to circumvent an increasingly insular art world and reach out directly to the public. Fascinated by the aesthetic as well as the communicative potential of book-making, Baskin founded the Gehenna Press in 1942. Over the ensuing fifty-eight years, the press issued more than one hundred exquisitely crafted, limited-edition books, the best known of which are probably Baskin’s collaborations with his friend, the British poet Ted Hughes.
Despite his disdain for the American art establishment of the 1950s and '60s, Baskin won an enormous popular following and amassed a curriculum vitae that includes hundreds of museum exhibitions, monographic publications and articles. His work is in numerous major collections, including those of the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert in London, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Vatican in Rome, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Albertina Museum in Vienna and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Crowning an illustrious career, Baskin toward the end of his life was commissioned to create memorials to the Holocaust in Ann Arbor, Michigan (1994), and to Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1997) and Woodrow Wilson (1998) in Washington, D.C.
Equally dismissive of abstraction and realism, Baskin strove to capture the existential forces beyond visible reality, drawing upon imagery from classical mythology, the Bible and his own idiosyncratic symbolic iconography. Baskin's unique blend of spirituality and humanism, while out of sync with the rigid formalism of his own era, seems particularly relevant in today’s freewheeling, multifaceted world.
LEONARD BASKIN: Proofs and Process is documented by a comprehensive checklist, which is available free of charge by mail or can be downloaded from our website http://www.gseart.com.