Icones Librorum Artifices by Leonard Baskin. The Gehenna Press, 1988. 11 1/4 x 16 inches, 48 leaves, 40 copies. 32 etched portraits printed by Robert Wakefield, each accompanied by a shaped typographic note set from types cast by Harold Berliner. The Arrighi types were composed and printed damp by Art Larson on a variety of handmade papers. Binding by Gray Parrot.

In The Gehenna Press: The Work of Fifty Years, 1942–1992, Baskin wrote “Icones has been called the masterwork of the press. It may be, I cannot say. The book is a flowering & a fulfilling resolution of elements but tentatively used in precedent books. Color emblazons the pages of Icones; in printing etchings the press was becoming very proficient (especially with the advent of Michael Kuch) in the uses of color. It uses overlays, with & without stenciled definition & makes great use of a la poupée & other coloring devices. The portraits are of various sizes & differing configurations, framing an odd geometry of humanistic book-workers. The difficult and complex composition & its perfect subsequent printing was achieved by Arthur Larson of Hadley, Mass. The etchings were flawlessly printed in England by D.R. Wakefield.”

Colin Franklin wrote in the same volume: “Icones, as happens from time to time, was promptly hailed as his [Baskin’s] masterpiece. . . . The press has been fortunate in its pressmen: McGrath in Northampton, Robert Wakefield in England and latterly Arthur Larson in Hadley. It would be more true to say that those who worked there learned to do what Baskin wanted, as Binning, Hooper, Gage-Cole, comparable technicians in England a century ago, learnt to do what Morris and Walker asked.”

Icones was the first book I printed at the newly established Horton Tank Graphics, established precisely to print for Baskin—one of six books I printed for Gehenna in 1988, the 'annus mirabilis' of the Press, as Franklin has called it. It was also the first book I had printed for Baskin, the first book I had ever printed damp, and the first book I had ever printed on my newly acquired Vandercook 325A. I was 35 years old and had been printing for seven years. Icones was a thrilling and exhausting trial by fire.” —AL

A Century for the Century: Fine Printed Books from 1900 to 1999 by Martin Hutner and Jerry Kelly. David R. Godine, 2004. #96.

Used by permission of the Estate of Leonard Baskin.
© Estate of Leonard Baskin. All rights are held by the artist and any further duplication or publication must be cleared by them.
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