Leonard Baskin was born in 1922 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and was raised in Brooklyn, New York. The son of a Rabbi, Baskin was educated at a yeshiva, which profoundly influenced his later aesthetic. Baskin became intrigued by Greek history; philosophy and mythology at an early age and this study inspired many of his sculptures and paintings. His other influences were early 20th century sculptors, such as Ernst Barlach. Baskin's first sculpture exhibition was at the Glickman Studio Gallery in New York City, when the artist was 17. He studied at Yale University from 1941 to 1943 and received his B.A. at the New School for Social Research in 1949. In 1942 Leonard Baskin founded the Gehenna Press. The name for the Press was inspired by a line in Milton's Paradise Lost, which said, "and black Gehenna call'd, the type of Hell." In 1953 he began teaching printmaking and sculpture at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he remained until 1974. Baskin moved to England in 1974, returning to America in 1983. His years spent abroad were enormously productive, and besides creating sculptures he also created a fine selection of prints and paintings.