Leonard Baskin, The Great Birdman

Leonard Baskin, Yom Kippur Angel, 1978, etching and aquatint. OJM2017.43. ©Estate of Leonard Baskin.Image courtesy of R. Michelson Gallery.

Leonard Baskin, The Great Birdman

Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Portland, OR - To Jan 21, 2024

by Joseph Gallivan

These 70 paintings and prints show how Leonard Baskin (1922-2000), who was raised Orthodox, fused his understanding of Jewish texts with Egyptian and Mesopotamian art, Greek mythology and Native American stories. The Great Birdman is reminiscent of the poet Ted Hughes’ poetry book Crow, where a mythic bird encompasses all aspects of human character and history. Baskin called himself “a believing atheist” and was more attached to Yiddish culture than religious Jewishness. He preferred “the literacy, artistic, cultural and human relics of that religion” to the religion itself. This museum provides the perfect context for understanding Baskin’s art.

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