Photo by Steven Haywood. © Estate of Leonard Baskin

Leonard Baskin, Queens Display - Self Portrait with Bird 1995, Glutted Death 1992. Photo by Steven Haywood. © Estate of Leonard Baskin

New Display Celebrates the Work of Leonard Baskin

From January to April, the University of Exeter’s new Queen’s Building display space is showcasing a selection of reproductions of stunning artworks by American-born sculptor and graphic artist Leonard Baskin, which form part of the University’s heritage collections.

Leonard Baskin (1922 – 2000) is renowned for his expressive artworks as well as founding Gehenna Press, one of the earliest limited edition fine arts presses in the United States.

A partnership between the University of Exeter’s Special Collections and Arts and Culture teams, this new display touches on the long-lasting collaborative friendships that Baskin developed with poet Ted Hughes and documentary filmmaker Noel Chanan whilst living in Devon in the 1970s.

Reproduction of works displayed include a rich mix of captivating prints and artist’s proofs including works that were used to illustrate some of Hughes’s poetry, all of which are held in the University’s Special Collections.  Alongside this you can also view reproductions of a small number of prints by Baskin which he gave to Noel Chanan and his wife June over a period of 30 years and which Chanan has recently donated to the University.

In bringing these collections together, the works displayed celebrate the breadth of Baskin’s print techniques and the themes of his art, as well as providing a fascinating insight into some of his long-standing collaborative relationships.

Archivist Caroline Walter, who has been working with the University of Exeter’s Special Collections and Arts and Culture teams on the display, said “Leonard Baskin’s work as an award-winning figurative artist and founder of the Gehenna Press places him as an important artist of the 20th century. His parallel accomplishments as a sculptor, printmaker, illustrator, bookmaker and typographer are impressive, as is the sheer creative energy of his many collaborations. We’re so delighted to be able share a selection of this work with you as part of this new display.”

Dr Christine Faunch, Head of Heritage Collections at the University of Exeter said “I am particularly thrilled that four extraordinary items kindly donated to us by Film-maker Noel Chanan are part of this new display of proofs from our Leonard Baskin collections. Noel's donation amounts to over 100 works which will enhance the Baskin archives already donated to the University by Carol Hughes and Lisa Unger Baskin.”

Sarah Campbell, Associate Director for Arts and Culture, University of Exeter added “The University’s Special Collections are an amazing resource, known to anyone who has done research in these archives at the Streatham campus. The display space is a wonderful opportunity to raise the profile of this resource and for passing audiences to get a taste of the riches available for further study. We hope Baskin’s commitment to creativity and collaboration will inspire those who see the display and tempt them to learn more.”

The new display is available to view from Monday 10 January – Friday 1 April in the Arts and Culture display space situated in the West Wing foyer of the Queen’s Building on the University’s Streatham campus.

The collections are also open for research to members of the public on application to University of Exeter’s Special Collections. For more information, please contact Special Collections directly on libspc@exeter.ac.uk.

The University of Exeter is grateful to Lisa Unger Baskin, Carol Hughes and Noel Chanan for their support on this display.

Date: 27 January 2022

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