Artifex: Leonard Baskin and the Gehenna Press


The early years of Gehenna Press

Baskin & Hughes

An Architect of the Page

“Of the making of books…”




Honoring James Baldwin

The Oresteia



Introduction : Background


Baskin grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a rabbi. His religious upbringing and early education at a yeshiva had a profound effect on his aesthetic sensibilities. While studying at Yale University from 1941 to 1943, the young artist developed a great enthusiasm for the art of letterpress printing. He not only learned the centuries-old craft of letterpress printing, but founded the Gehenna Press, which he proceeded to develop into a small private press that still produces beautifully crafted books today. Baskin illustrated most of those books, and served as the press's chief designer and producer. Among the best-known Gehenna Press books are those on which Baskin collaborated with noted poets, such as Ted Hughes and Archibald MacLeish. This exhibition highlights many of those artistic partnerships along with Baskin's interest in the craft and history of making books.

Leonard Baskin, Portrait photograph by Noel Chanan.

Collection of Lisa Unger Baskin.

Image © Noel Chanan.