Torso of the Destroyed City

    Torso of the Destroyed City

  • Valentine Prax bequest, 1981
  • [1951 - 1963]
  • Bronze, proof 2/5, Susse foundry, Paris
  • Inv. MZS 250
  • Musée Zadkine
  • Garden

This Torso of the Destroyed City cast in 1963 is that of the figure of the Monument of the same name which was unveiled in the port of Rotterdam on 15 May 1953. This monument was ordered from Zadkine by the municipality of Rotterdam to pay homage to the victims of the Second World War.
At the origin of this monument was the shock felt by Zadkine in June 1947, on discovering Rotterdam razed by German bombing in May 1940. In his memoirs Zadkine recounts the violence of the impressions which he felt then: “The image of the city and the obliterated streets of Rotterdam haunted me. When I returned to Paris, I made a draft model for a statue in clay which attempted to express the combination of confusion and horror". The "first draft for a monument to the destroyed city", was broken in transport. A new version of a "projected monument for a bombed city" was produced in 1947. 
The violent twisting movement, the broken lines of the dislocated body, the central void similar to the ripped out heart of man, the play of light between concave and convex planes, the distortion of the head of which we only register the expression of a cry of horror, comparable in intensity with that of Guernica by Picasso, all these elements contribute to bringing the feeling of tragedy to its height. With this figure emblematic of human pain, Zadkine achieved the supreme goal which he had set himself through his art: "to stimulate emotion in the onlooker, to exude something which captivates the spectator, which opens up to them an unsuspected pathway in their own soul".