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‘Jack of All Trades’ Artist


The Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington treats patrons to an unforgettable experience this fall and winter. From September 26-January 9, the museum presents Leonard Baskin: Art from the Gift of Alfred Appel, Jr.

Dr. Appel, an English professor at Northwestern University, literary scholar and author of books about modern art and music, formed his Baskin collection in the ’60s and ’70s. The artist’s humanism intrigued him, and while he amassed his collection, Appel befriended Baskin. Featuring a wide array of this significant American artist’s pieces, the Leonard Baskin exhibit astounds visitors and makes the Delaware Art Museum the place to view American art this season.

Leonard Baskin AET 42, 1962
Leonard Baskin (1922-2000)
Color woodcut on paper, 32 x 23 ½ inches
Gift of Alfred Appel, Jr., 2009
© Estate of Leonard Baskin, Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York

Painter, writer, illustrator, printmaker, critic and Mentor Award-winner, Baskin engaged in the art world in a myriad of ways — a true Renaissance man. He experimented with and excelled at using different kinds of media, diversifying his work and transforming him into an influential and somewhat controversial artist. The fact that he espoused artistic movements other than formalism and abstraction, which dominated art production and criticism during his time, added to his controversy. Unlike the philosophies of these movements, Baskin placed emphasis on the content and narrative of his work, and strove to convey his message by portraying his subjects realistically.

Although he pursued a variety of artistic endeavors, Baskin considered himself foremost a sculptor. Commissioned to help sculpt the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and Woodrow Wilson Memorial in Washington, D.C., along with the Holocaust Museum in Michigan, the artist viewed sculpting as the foundation for his artwork. His artistic resume also includes winning several awards such as a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Gold Medal of the national Academy of Arts & Letters and the Jewish Cultural Award.

Throughout his career, Baskin demonstrated his deep understanding of the value of obscure artists. He reserved great respect for his favorite painters, sculptors and graphic artists, especially the lesser-known ones. He particularly identified with realist painter Thomas Eakins and immortalized him in several portraits, six of which are featured in the exhibit. Not only did he revere past generations of obscure artists, Baskin also connected to and encouraged overlooked artists of younger generations, offering criticism and support.

The artist’s interest in nature, human suffering and literary figures that emanates from each piece fascinates patrons as they meander throughout Leonard Baskin: Art from the Gift of Alfred Appel Jr. The exhibit is indeed a gift, a collection of some of the nation’s most significant artwork.

For information about Delaware Art Museum hours, admission, and exhibits, visit www.delart.org.