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A Russian émigré, Zadkine arrived in Paris in 1909 and became associated with Cubism. In the 1920s, he became interested in arts outside the academic canon, favouring the elongated forms of Romanesque statuary. He made large-scale wooden sculptures drawing on techniques of Russian folk decoration, and exemplifying the immediacy of ‘direct carving’. Venus embodies the impact of these varied sources, so that the classical ideal of beauty is invigorated by raw simplification.

September 2004