Zadkine, Ossip

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ZADKINE, OSSIP (1890–1967), sculptor. Born in Smolensk, Russia, Zadkine studied in London. After serving as a stretcher-bearer in the French army in World War i, he resumed his career in Paris. When the Nazis invaded France in 1940, Zadkine took refuge in the United States and taught at the Art Students League in New York. During this time his work was symbolic of the war period, and included "The Prisoner," "The Phoenix," and "The Warrior." After the war he returned to Paris. In his early years, Zadkine was a cubist, but in the early 1920s he felt restricted by the cubist indifference to human beauty. He then developed a freer and more baroque style. His work is more closely linked to tradition than that of most other members of the cubist generation. Features derived from African primitive art blend with those inspired by classical sculpture. His themes are frequently based on Greek mythology or stimulated by figures from literature and from the Jewish and Christian religions ("Job and His Friends," "David," "The Good Samaritan," "Christ"). He achieved world fame with his sculpture, "The Destroyed City," unveiled at Rotterdam in 1953. This monument, which rises 20 feet, is in the form of a mutilated giant, arms upheld in agony, and symbolizes the ruthless bombardment of the Dutch port city by German planes in 1940. Zadkine, whose preferred media were wood and bronze, produced numerous drawings and lithographs, as well as designs for tapestries. His autobiography, Le Maillet et le ciseau; souvenirs de ma vie, was published in 1968.


I. Jianou, Zadkine (Fr., 1964); Staedtische Kunstgalerie Bochum, Ossip Zadkine: Plastiken 19101959 (1960).

[Alfred Werner]