Ossip Zadkine was a Jewish Belarus-born artist.
He was born Yossel Arnovich Tsadkin in Vitebsk, Belarus of Jewish and Scottish descent. He spent his childhood in Smolensk in a circle of cultured and assimilated Jews. His father was a convert to the Orthodox Church, and his mother came from an immigrant family of Scottish shipwrights. While staying with his mother’s relatives in Sunderland, northern England, in 1905, he attended the local art school and taught himself to carve furniture ornaments. At the age of 16 he continued his artistic training in London, taking evening classes in life drawing and making his living as an ornamental woodcarver. During this time he became friendly with the painter David Bomberg. He continued his studies at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London, and later, in 1908, at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, where he concentrated on techniques in wood.
Zadkine settled in Paris in 1910 and became part of the Cubist movement, from 1914 to 1925. After this time he developed an original style, strongly influenced by primitive arts. During World War I, Zadkine was wounded in action while he served as a stretcher-bearer. He spent the World War II period in exile in America. His best-known work is probably the sculpture “City Without Heart,” a memorial to the wanton destruction of the center of Rotterdam by the Germans in 1940.
Zadkine passed away in 1967 at the age of 77.