Ossip Zadkine - New Now London Thursday, December 8, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “So innovative, so personal, Zadkine is one of our real, rare ‘classics’ of today.” 
    —André de Ridder

    Ossip Zadkine’s innovative vision for sculpture contributed to a new modernity, where abstraction fluctuates with the tangible, evoking intimate and tactile objects as seen in the present lot, Le Repos. Zadkine acknowledges the materiality of each sculpture, where protrusions and recessions are moulded to reveal either a sculpted portrait or an ethereal study that ignites a moving reflection of an artist who worked through a period of constant political turmoil.


    The Belarusian-born French nationalised artist arrived in Paris in 1909. He briefly studied at the École des Beaux-Arts but came to reject institutional principles for a bohemian lifestyle when he left Paris to join La Ruche (The Hive), a school and artists’ commune founded on anarchist principles by Sébastien Faure near Rambouillet in 1904. It is at La Ruche where Zadkine worked alongside other modern masters, such as Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz and Amedeo Modigliani.


    In the 1920s, Zadkine adopted Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso’s Cubist principles and his early experiments embodied geometric forms while adhering to the dialogue associated with Cubism. However, in 1921 Zadkine obtained French citizenship and served in the French Army during World War I, resulting in a pause in his practice. In the aftermath of the war, his work clearly embodies a sense of imminent disaster and the necessity for change in aesthetic values are powerfully revealed in his creativity. Following his military duties, Zadkine began to teach sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, a school which was free from classical academic constraints.


    Zadkine’s practice began to diverge from Cubism as the result of a desire to delve deeper into his Russian heritage and growing interests in the sculptural tradition of folk decoration where the immediacy of directly carving into wood hugely impacted Zadkine’s own artistic style and technique. As World War II broke out in Europe, Zadkine was forced to flee France and seek refuge in New York City. This proved to transform the artist’s sculptural practice. It is in New York City, where the artist became acquainted with the American Abstract Expressionists who further influenced his sculptural practice.  


    Zadkine’s legacy continues through his pronounced connection to contemporary sculptors. Exceedingly effervescent, his expressive sculptures are, above all else, concerned with the human form and how certain materials effect the representation of the body. Such preoccupations are especially relevant to contemporary British sculptor Anthony Gormley, whose work concentrates on the relationship between the human body and the space that it occupies. Tellingly, Gormley was greatly influenced by certain artists working in New York in the 60s, many of whom would have in turn been familiar with Zadkine’s work when he was based in the city. Playing with perceived relationships between sculpture, nature, and questions of existence, both Gormley and Zadkine’s sculptures share a powerful emotional resonance that continues to persist today. Zadkine’s turbulent life and ever-evolving artistic practice culminated with three major retrospectives just before his death at Wallrof-Richartz Museum in Cologne, Tate Gallery in London and Kunsthaus Zürich. In 1950, Zadkine was recognised as a great sculpture of the 20th Century when he was awarded the Grand prix for sculpture at the XXV Biennale di Venezia.

    • Provenance

      Waddington Gallery, London
      Sotheby’s, Tel Aviv, 26 May 1988, lot 16
      Private Collection, London (acquired at the above sale)
      Thence by descent to the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Paris, Musée Rodin; Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Hommage à Zadkine, 1972 - 1973, no. 125, n.p. (another example exhibited and illustrated)

    • Literature

      Jianou Ionel, Zadkine, Paris, 1979, no. 471, pp. 92, 95 (another example illustrated)
      Marie-Claude Dane, Museé Zadkine Sculptures, Marseille, 1982, no. 280, p.225 (another example illustrated)
      Sylvain Lecombre, Ossip Zadkine. L'œuvre Sculpté, Paris, 1994, no. 568, p. 702 (another example illustrated, p. 622)


Lot offered with No Reserve

Le Repos

incised with the artist’s initials, numbered and stamped with the foundry mark ‘OZ 1/8 Susse Fondeur, Paris’ on the base
17 x 11 x 16 cm (6 3/4 x 4 3/8 x 6 1/4 in.)
Conceived in 1966 and cast in 1971, this work is number 1 from an edition of 8 plus 1 cast numbered 0/8 and 2 artist’s proofs.

Another example from this edition is in the permanent collection of the Musée Zadkine, Paris.

Full Cataloguing

£5,000 - 7,000 •†♠

Sold for £1,890

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993


New Now

London Auction 8 December 2022