Leonard Baskin: Art from the Gift of Alfred Appel, Jr
Delaware Art Museum
September 26, 2010 – January 9, 2011
The Delaware Art Museum presents Leonard Baskin: Art from the Gift of Alfred Appel, Jr., featuring more than 70 drawings, prints, sculptures, and books, on view September 26, 2010 – January 9, 2011. In the 1950s, Leonard Baskin (1922-2000) emerged as an important American artist. Placing the human figure at the center of his work, Baskin set himself against the abstraction and formalism that dominated art production and criticism at the time. Prodigiously talented in several media, Baskin explored his interests—artists, birds, tragic literary figures, human suffering—deeply, returning to them over many years. Comprised of pieces produced between 1952 and 1974, the collection provides an excellent overview of Baskin’s early work.
This exhibition celebrates the collection of Baskin’s art generously donated to the Delaware Art Museum by Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Appel, Jr. Professor Appel was a literary scholar and an author of wide-ranging books on modern art and jazz. A professor of English at Northwestern University for more than 35 years, he was known particularly for his expertise on Vladimir Nabokov and for his book The Annotated Lolita (1970, updated 1991). Attracted by Baskin’s profound humanism, Professor Appel formed this exemplary collection in the 1960s and early ’70s, and in the process, he befriended the artist.
Artists’ portraits were favorites of both artist and collector, and this exhibition features more than 30 of these. Produced in homage to his favorite painters, sculptors, and graphic artists—primarily obscure masters of past centuries—Baskin’s portraits testify to his profound respect for the artists of past generations. Perhaps his strongest identification was with American realist painter Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), and this exhibition includes six portraits of Eakins by Baskin. Other highlights include Baskin’s powerful large woodcuts, portfolios of etchings and wood engravings, a watercolor painting of Cheyenne chief Wolf Robe, and a stellar freestanding sculpture entitled Lazarus.
To honor this outstanding gift, the Delaware Art Museum is working with Lead Graffiti Letterpress Design to produce a limited edition catalogue with an essay on Baskin by Alfred Appel, Jr. Inspired by the shared interests of artist and donor, exhibition-related programs will include poetry readings and letterpress printing workshops.