July 9, 2014

Baskin's Tyrranus

        I’m on vacation, so this will be short, but yesterday I was at the Portland Museum of art and saw there one of Leonard Baskin’s monumental wood block prints.  At 72 inches tall it’s life sized, if not life-proportioned, and very dramatic and striking.  Do I like it?  Probably not, but it’s definitely a pretty cool woodcut, pushing off in yet another direction of what’s possible and what a relief block print can be.  For Baskin everything was intensely political - he said “Art is content or it is nothing.”  But when I looked at this I was thinking at least as much about process as about content.  It’s interesting to me to think about how Baskin (U.S. 1922-2000) might have planned and carved and printed a block so big.
        (The exhibit I actually enjoyed most in the museum was a show of work by Richard Estes - it turns out he does a wider range of work than I had realized, and I really loved some of it much more than I’d expected.  If you’re in Portland ME be sure to check it out.  I think the show runs through September.)

[Picture: Tyrranus, woodcut by Leonard Baskin, 1982 (Image from R. Michelson Galleries, although of course I saw the one at the Portland Museum of Art.)]

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