The destroyed city (1953) Ossip Zadkine

photo BKOR archive
About the artwork

This image is one of the most famous international war monuments. The destroyed city has become the epitome of bombed-out Rotterdam. Sculptor Ossip Zadkine made this war memorial in 1947 as a 70 cm high terracotta statue. In 1949, the then director of the Bijenkorf mr. Van der Wal was so impressed by the design that he bought a large bronze version and donated it to the municipality of Rotterdam. The hole in the body of this stricken figure symbolizes how Rotterdam was hit to the heart with the bombardment by the Germans on May 14, 1940. Only a few thought the devastation of the image was too demonic to determine the streetscape permanently. The large majority of Rotterdammers thought that the sculpture very well represents the desperation and the desire to rise up in an immediately intelligible manner. May 15, 1953 The destroyed city unveiled by mayor Van Walsum. The sculpture is placed at Plein 1940, a location chosen by Zadkine himself from a few options. The statue was surrounded by the battered city with a view of the damage of the bombardment. Zadkine also chose this location because of the view of the Leuvehaven behind it: it connects the port and city, and has a view of sky and water. Also in the oeuvre of Ossip Zadkine The destroyed city in a special place. It is not only his greatest sculpture, but also one of the most convincing expressions of what occupied him as an artist. For more information: Sculpture International Rotterdam

read more
About the artist

Sculptor Ossip Zadkine (Vitebsk, Belarus, 1888 - Paris, 1967) develops a geometric style in the Interbellum period, derived from cubism. From 1930 onwards, his work becomes increasingly baroque and spatial. When World War II breaks out, Zadkine flees to the United States. There he makes his first pierced figures. Back in Paris, it appears that much of his work has disappeared from the studio or has been destroyed. From those years working in Paris, he developed into one of the most influential sculptors of modern art.

read more