This is a plate from Leonard Baskin’s Ars Anatomica, a portfolio of thirteen prints commissioned by Editions Medicina Rara, Ltd., of New York.
This work is a lithographic transfer from pen & ink drawings. It was printed at The Curwen Press in London on paper specially-made by hand for the project by E. Towgood & Sons of Sawston, Cambridgeshire and bearing the private watermark of Medicina Rara.
Upon publication, this portfolio was described as the first anatomical portfolio by an artist of renown.
Baskin was distressed at the state of the art world when he made the drawings which were published in this portfolio. He said, “The art of our time is an act of cowardice, a triumph of the trivial, a squandering of treasure.” In Baskin’s view, art was meant to be a means whereby “man must rediscover man, harried and brutalized, distended and eviscerated, but noble withal, rich in intention, puissant in creative spur, and enduring in the posture of love.”
These works reflect the best of anatomical illustrations, which though designed for learning and reference were treasured for their beauty, scholarly import, and artistic merit. As written in the colophon, “Some of these images seem even hundreds of years later to make a profound statement about man through the portrayal of his physicality.”
Plainly, these works by Baskin were unconcerned with scientific accuracy. Physiognomy has always played a central role in most of Baskin’s work. So, too, was Baskin always fascinated by medical illustration. This work, then, unites those loves, celebrating humankind’s creative spirit and the human spirit which prevails even when sometimes the body fails.
This work is now unframed but the price includes the cost of museum-quality framing in walnut, 8-ply mat, and conservation-grade materials. If you wish not to have the work framed, please let us know.
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