Zadkine Ossip

Bust of a young girl with folded arms H-48 cm, polished bronze, 1914-1917
About work

The symbolic orientation of the plastic generalization of forms, reminiscent of Modigliani’s creative techniques, gives purity and a special romantic image. Having absorbed and generalized the culture of different peoples (Russian icon, African sculpture, etc.), O. Tsadkin skillfully combines the achievements of past centuries with modern trends in art. The organicity of the rhythm of relations and proportions is achieved in this work, the use of concave and convex forms – characteristic of the work of O. Tsadkin period of the 20s of the XIX century.

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Osip Tsadkin (1890-1967) – a French avant-garde sculptor who came from a Jew background. Also an illustrator, poet and memoirist.


Tsadkin received his primary education at the Vitebsk City Four-Grade School, where Marc Chagall studied with him for some time. Takes drawing lessons from the artist Yu.M. Foam.

In 1905, Osip’s parents sent him to England to visit his mother’s cousin, whose ancestors were Scottish. In the city of Sunderland, his uncle assigns him to art school to study modeling. Here the young man copies antique plaster and Voltaire’s head by Hudon, a bad experience from which forever distracted the novice sculptor from copying.

In 1906 he went to London, attended courses at the Royal Polytechnic Institute, and then studied wood carving at the School of Arts and Crafts. He often visits the British Museum, studying classical sculpture, and works as a wood and stone carver.

Creative path

In 1908, Tsadkin returned to Russia, where he created his first independent sculptures, but a year later he went to Paris and in the fall of 1909 entered the National School of Fine Arts. Having settled in one of the workshops of the famous “Hive” (La Ruche) in Montparnasse, Tsadkin became acquainted with all the variety of modern creative endeavors in the field of painting and sculpture, but he still continues to work in a style conventionally called “sculptural impressionism”. These works are distinguished by soft free molding and characteristic texture.

In 1911, Tsadkin presented his sculptures and drawings at the annual Autumn Salon and the Salon of Independents. In 1912 his works were exhibited in St. Petersburg at the 1st exhibition of the Artistic Association, which was attended by V. Mayakovsky, D. Burliuk, El Lysytsky.
In 1914 he exhibited with a group of Dutch artists “Independents” in Amsterdam and representatives of the United Association of Artists in London.

In 1915 he volunteered for the front, served as a nurse in a field hospital, and in 1917 was demobilized as a result of gas poisoning. Based on his military sketches, he created a series of etchings dedicated to the war. Gradually he returned to sculpture and continued to search for his own plastic language, based on the traditions of archaism, Romanesque style, primitive art and experimenting with Cubism.

By the 1920s, Tsadkin was finding his own individual style. “By this time,” he writes, “my sculpture is losing the scholastic rigidity of Cubism, I am returning to myself, to what touches me most deeply, to a kind of grace, slightly heavy and uncomfortable, but already devoid of that dryness and rigidity. which was characteristic of my so-called Cubist sculpture. ”

In 1920, in the Paris studio, Tsadkin held the first retrospective display of his works, and in 1921 the publisher of the Italian magazine Valori Plastici published the first monograph on the work of the sculptor, written by Maurice Reynal.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the artist’s work was presented in Chicago, Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, New York and Tokyo. In 1937, Tsadkin visited the United States for the first time. In 1941, fearing arrest and imprisonment in a concentration camp, he went to New York, where he continued to work, as well as teaching.

In 1945, the artist returned to France, he was elected professor at the Grand Schommer Academy, where he taught until 1958. In 1950, Tsadkin organized a sculpture school, where his American students continued their studies. In the same year, Tsadkin was awarded the Grand Prix in sculpture at the Venice Biennale.

Tsadkin’s sculpture, influenced by Cubism, is close to Expressionism. The use of gaps, voids, “counter-reliefs” gives a special expressiveness to his works, as if turning the plastic space inside out.

Until 1958, Tsadkin taught at the Grand Schomier Academy in Paris. In 1965 the monograph “The Secret World of Osip Tsadkin” was published, which includes his lithographs, poems, photographs of the artist. The giant retrospective was opened in 1966 at the Zurich Art Museum.

Tsadkin died on November 25, 1967 in Paris. Buried in the capital’s Montparnasse cemetery.

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