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Rico Lebrun 1900–1964
 
In a tribute he wrote soon after Rico Lebrun's death, Leonard Baskin noted of his teacher, mentor, and friend, "Nothing human was alien to Lebrun's vision." In his drawings, paintings, and sculpture, Lebrun worked and reworked the human form with inventive fragmentation and distortion. This sustained passion for the human figure profoundly influenced Baskin. His deeply felt posthumous portrait of Lebrun poetically captures the fine line between representation and suggestion.

A skilled printmaker, Baskin often made drawings that resemble prints. Here, lines that appear to be etched connect the profile to the flattened background, teasing the perception of three-dimensionality. Those lines—possibly representing breath, speech, or aura—create the impression of a remembered visage of someone who has disappeared. The unfinished outline of Lebrun's shirt reinforces this lonely gulf between absence and presence, death and life, memory and reality.

Leonard Baskin (1922–2000)
Ink on paper, 1968
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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