Leo Bensemann

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1912, d.1986

James K Baxter

  • Presented to the Gallery by Mary Bensemann, 1995
  • Pencil on paper
  • 250 x 177mm
  • 96/42

This is an informal portrait study of the celebrated New Zealand poet James K. Baxter (1926 -1972), with whom Leo Bensemann was associated while Baxter was in Christchurch during late 1947 and 1948. Baxter moved to Christchurch from Dunedin in late 1947 to renew his university studies. He became friends with fellow poets Allen Curnow and Denis Glover and with Bensemann, who worked as a typographer at the Caxton Press with Glover. Baxter’s first collection of poems, Beyond the Palisade, was published by the Caxton Press in 1944. Born in Takaka, Bensemann shifted to Nelson with his family in 1920, then to Christchurch in 1929 where he worked for an advertising agency. He attended evening classes at the Canterbury College School of Art between 1932 and 1936. It was in 1934 that Bensemann met Denis Glover and became involved with the Caxton Press, with which he remained associated until his retirement in 1978. He was a regular exhibitor with The Group from 1938.