Man of Peace

Leonard Baskin (American, 1922 – 2000)
Sheet/image : 72 x 40 in. (1.8 x 1 m)
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Hope College Collection
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Leonard Baskin once said, “Art is content, or it is nothing.” He was committed to the idea that art should explore aspects of the human condition and challenge viewers to question their assumptions and prejudices. This large-scale woodcut is one of Baskin’s most important early works. It depicts a smock-clad man standing in a tangle of barbed wire, holding a dead bird in his hands. The man resembles a prisoner of war or a concentration camp inmate, while the bird recalls the dove of peace. Baskin created the print in response to the death and devastation of World War II, as well as the conflicts of the Korean War and the Cold War. Such an overtly anti-war image was controversial at the time the print was made in 1952, which coincided with the height of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “Red Scare” campaign to root out leftwing “subversives” in American government and society.

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