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Ossip ZADKINE

(1890 - 1967)


After having left his native Russia and spending four years in Britain (1905-1908), Zadkine moved to France in 1909. He attended the École des Beaux-Arts for a short time and then obtained a studio in La Ruche. From 1910 to 1914 he gradually internalised the lessons of the Cubists and attempted to apply them to his sculptures. The war broke off this research; he volunteered into the army, was gassed, and returned, in his own words, “physically and morally devastated”. He built his style slowly, starting fairly close to the primitivism of Gauguin and inspired by the Cubism of Archipenko; finally he tried out a synthesis of the two. He became a naturalized French citizen in 1921. His works got into the Musée de Grenoble in 1922 (Tiger in wood and Head of a Young Girl in marble) at the instigation of curator Andry-Farcy. His sculptures were regularly shown in Paris and abroad, in Japan, Belgium and Holland, and he confirmed his reputation in solo shows in London (1928) and at the Venice Biennale (1932). At the same time, Zadkine taught, in his Parisian studio or at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere. During World War II he was forced to seek refuge in New York in 1941, and then close to Tucson, Arizona, in 1944. He taught at the Art Students League of New York where he trained many artists, including Kenneth Noland. In March 1942 the Pierre Matisse Gallery invited him to take part in the exhibition Artists in Exile, along with Léger, Chagall and Lipchitz. He won international recognition with exhibitions in the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (1948), the Boymans Museum in Rotterdam (1949), the Fujikawa Gallery in Japan (1954). The Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne (1960), the Tate Gallery in London (1961) and Kunsthaus Zurich (1965) put on big Zadkine retrospectives. The bronze sculpture Statue for a Garden (1958), from the Maeght Foundation Collection, is known in several versions, of which the first, from 1927, was probably wooden. He title refers to the need of the artist for sculpture to be exhibited outside, in the open air, so that the breeze can turn the metal parts that represent the heart in the body. They are in the central part of the bronze figure and rotate around a central axis. The movement can be slow and uncertain or rapid and sudden, and the work is never presented twice in the same light.

Statue pour un jardin
Statue pour un jardin, 1958

Bronze
253 x 112 x 57 cm
Don de Mme Zadkine, 1971
Collection Fondation Maeght

On en connaît plusieurs états, le plus ancien étant probablement une version en bois de 1927. Le titre indique la nécessité pour l’artiste de voir sa statue déposée à l’extérieur, si possible en plein vent, pour que la brise puisse faire tourner les volets métalliques qui représentent un cœur et l’intérieur du corps, enserrés au milieu du bronze et pivotant sur un axe central. Le déplacement est lent, aléatoire, ou bien se produit par à-coups, et l’œuvre ne s’offre jamais exactement deux fois sous le même angle aux regards.