Ossip Zadkine was a painter and sculptor of Russian origin. At the age of 16, Zadkine was sent to London for his studies but the young man ran away, interested only in art, and sculpture in particular. He went to Paris in 1909 to devote himself to his passion. He ended up settling there permanently. He began by teaching at the École des Beaux-Arts. Ossip Zadkine admired Gustave Rodin, who subverted conventions with his anti-academic approach. He rubbed shoulders with the artists of La Ruche in the Montparnasse district, such as Brancusi, Bourdelle, Picasso, Survage, Lipchitz, Delaunay and Modigliani. Despite his very academic training, he quickly changed direction.
Ossip Zadkine reintroduced poetry into sculpture. The discovery of African carved heads in Paris in the early 1910s made a significant impact on his art. His sculptures are a synthesis of volumes, a succession of cut-out planes, also reminiscent of Pablo Picasso’s Cubism. In the beginning, his sculptures were made of pieces of wood: he cut directly into the trunks of trees. Afterwards, he worked mainly in stone, and especially bronze. He inverted the hollows and bumps, which in turn inverted the play of shadows and light.
In 1919, he exhibited for the first time in Brussels and Paris. In parallel with his sculptures, he produced many gouaches in a very removed, expressive style. He mainly depicted a dreamlike world populated by muses, musicians or centaurs. Ossip Zadkine was strongly influenced by Greek mythology. The human figure is recurrent in his work. The representations of Discobole and Demeter are amongst his most famous sculptures. He took part in many group exhibitions, as well as solo exhibitions which were devoted to him in Europe. In Paris, he moved into a house at number 100 rue d’Assas, in the sixth arrondissement. His house-studio is now a museum that preserves a large part of his production, both sculptures and paintings.