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




Exploring a long-held interest in natural history, Leonard Baskin embarked upon a project to record flying insects in near-microscopic detail. Diptera: A Book of Flies & Other Insects, 1983, is at its core an ode to insects. Diptera is the order that comprises all insects with one pair of wings, including mosquitoes and flies. The artist’s unusual choice of subject matter recalls the work of nineteenth-century naturalists and entomological illustrators, another example of how easily Baskin crossed traditional artistic boundaries.

Baskin conceived the project with the help of his friend, the poet Jose Iglesias, who wrote the introduction. Diptera also signaled the artist’s new interest in color etchings. Many of his plates were meticulously inked à la poupée, an antique French technique that employed multiple colored inks. Cornell’s copy is the printer’s copy, a gift to the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections from Lisa Unger Baskin.

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Diptera: a Book of Flies & other Insects
Yellow Fever Mosquitos
Praying Mantis & Grasshoppers