Homo sapiens

Ossip Zadkine (1888-1967)
1936
Patinated plaster
210 x 141 x 110 cm
Exhibited:
New York, Brummer Gallery, 1937
Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1937
Sculpture International, Philadelphia, 1940

Regained after many years languishing in the storage of the Museum of Art of Philadelphia, Homo Sapiens is not only one of our most important troves, it also experienced a certain form of resurrection of which we are particularly proud.
Welcomed in Europe at the Zadkine Research Center, cleaned and refreshed by our team of specialists, Homo Sapiens can as of now be brought to light and presented to the public again.

Its story is characteristic of its era.

Zadkine is for the first time invited to exhibit in New York by the Brummer gallery in 1937. He wishes to present the American public with what he then considers to be his major works. Selected among 33 sculptures and starring together with his Orphée, is his Homo Sapiens (1933) in elm wood. 205 x 135 x 95 cm – A monumental sculpture.  As mentioned in the artist’s autobiography « Le Maillet et le Ciseau » (p. 124), « when the sculptures were too big, he would cast them in plaster and transport them in parts ». As a matter of fact, it would have been too costly to make the Homo Sapiens in solid wood cross the Atlantic. The plaster version was thus minutely executed. Zadkine cautiously inscribed the mention “ORIGINAL” on the bottom of it.

After the show, Ossip Zadkine and Joseph Brummer decide to donate their “American” Homo Sapiens to the Museum of Art of Philadelphia. They will exhibit it twice, once in 1937 and in 1940, it then remained sleeping behind closed doors until 2015.

Its “French” homolog, Homo Sapiens (1933) in wood was on its hand acquired by the Museum of Modern Art of Paris in 1947.