The American artist Leonard Baskin was a sculptor, printmaker and book designer.

The Gehenna Press, which he first set up while a student at Yale in 1942 and later refounded in England in 1975, produced some 38 artists’ books. Baskin cared passionately about the way that words and images worked together, though he acknowledged that this was a specialist concern, saying: ‘people like me who care about printing – the architecture of the page – constitute the tiniest lunatic fringe in the nation.’ He collaborated with poets and painters such as Ruth Fainlight, Anthony Hecht, James Baldwin, Eric Carle and especially his close friend Ted Hughes. The thoughtfulness of Baskin’s relationships can be seen in his artistic response to the literature he worked with and his choice of type, ornamental decoration, paper and bookbinding, all of which were carefully picked to complement the texts. The Gehenna Archive includes manuscripts and Baskin’s own artistic work and papers relating to the operations of the press. The material provides an insight into the whole process of making an artist’s book, allowing viewers to follow the progress from the concept stage to first sketches, interaction with writers, mock-ups of the books, and numerous stages of proofing.


The artist's estate.

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