During his lifetime, Leonard Baskin created a large body of work that ranges from Holocaust memorials to children’s book illustrations. However, no matter the presentation, Baskin always held to a singular theme: the human condition. Across various mediums, the artist developed his subjects as rough, bloated, and malformed, sometimes combining animal and human features. Both the “Bird Man” and the state of “caprice” (an unexpected change of mood or behavior) were favorite subjects, and the work presented here merges these two concepts. Upon first glance, this simultaneously comical and disturbing sculpture appears to be merely the headless, distended body of a bird. Legs, which seem to be morphing into or from human limbs, form its lower half. Yet, a wee head, beady eyes, and a pointy beak emerge above.
Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017