Ossip Zadkine was born in Vitebsk in Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire, in 1888. At the age of fifteen he was sent by his father to Sunderland in the north of England to learn English and ‘good manners’;. He moved to London and attended some art lessons at the Regent Street Polytechnic, but considered the teachers too conservative. In 1909 he settled in Paris where he encountered many artists involved in the newest art movements such as Cubism. He exhibited his work for the first time in 1911.
After the Second World War he worked in a geometric style influenced by Cubism using modelling clay, stone and wood. After 1930 his work became increasingly freer and more baroque. At the outbreak of the Second Wold War he fled to the United States, where he made his first pierced figures. Upon his return to Paris in September 1944 he found that many of his works had been stolen from his studio or destroyed.
Zadkine’s themes were taken from the Bible, classical mythology, music and poetry. Over the years his work developed an expressive lyricism and an ever-greater plasticity. In 1950 Zadkine won the Grand Prix for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale. In this period he had exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. He died in Paris in 1967 and is buried in Montparnasse cemetery.