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



Honoring James Baldwin

James Baldwin (1924-1987), who grew up in crushing poverty in Harlem, became a novelist, poet, and powerful civil rights activist. In 1983, he was appointed Five College Professor in the Afro-American Studies department of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which is when he and Baskin became friends. Baskin was captivated by Baldwin’s imagery and suggested that the two collaborate. Before they could realize their project, Baldwin contracted and succumbed to stomach cancer. Baskin decided nonetheless to continue the project as a memorial, and created a series of portraits of Baldwin to accompany Baldwin’s poems. Since the text was previously unpublished, Baskin felt strongly that Gypsy should be printed in an edition of 325, a somewhat larger number than Gehenna Press had produced in some time.

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