Leo Bensemann

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Study for a portrait of Lieutenant Keith Elliott by Bensemann

Leo Vernon Bensemann, OBE (1 May 1912 – 2 January 1986), was a New Zealand artist, printer, typographer, publisher and editor. He was born in Takaka, Nelson, New Zealand on 1 May 1912.[1]

In the 1985 New Year Honours, Bensemann was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for services to art, literature and printing.[2]

Bensemenn moved to Christchurch in 1931 with his friend Lawrence Baigent. In February 1938, Bensemann and Baigant moved into a flat at 97 Cambridge Terrace where artist Rita Angus was living. On Angus’s nomination he joined The Group in 1938. Seven of the nine works he submitted to this exhibition were portraits - including a self-portrait, a portrait of Rita Angus and one of Lawrence Baigent.[3]

In 1937 the Caxton Press printed their first art publication, Bensemann’s “Fantastica: Thirteen Drawings”. Bensemann assisted with the printing of the book and this led to him joining Caxton Press in 1938. He stayed with Caxton until 1978.[3]


  1. ^ Simpson, Peter. "Leo Vernon Bensemann". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ London Gazette (supplement), No. 49970, 28 December 1984. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b 1942-, Simpson, Peter,. Bloomsbury South : the arts in Christchurch, 1933-1953. Auckland, New Zealand. ISBN 9781869408480. OCLC 945106039.