Sculptor born in Druskininkai in Lithuania (now part of Soviet Russia). Went to Paris in 1909 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the Académie Julian and the Académie Colarossi. Became interested in primitive and archaic art, of which he began to form a collection. Through friendship with Rivera and Picasso, participated in the Cubist movement from c.1914 and made low-reliefs and sculptures in the round of still life, clowns, musicians, etc. similar to Cubist painting. Was a close friend of Gris from 1916. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Léonce Rosenberg, Paris, 1920. Moved in 1925 to Boulogne-sur-Seine. His increasingly personal use of Cubism led in 1925-6 to the creation of open, transparent sculptures with ribbons of metal. From c.1929-30 began to use allegorical subject-matter drawn from classical mythology or the Old Testament, with more naturalistic anatomy and an emphasis on knotted, writhing forms; made a huge sculpture of 'Prometheus' for the 1937 Paris International Exhibition. Lived mainly in the USA from 1941, but spent the summers in Italy from 1963. His late works include a number of monumental sculpture commissions. Died on holiday in Capri.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.447-8