Exile in New York in 1941

1941-45 Exile in the United States

Zadkine embarked in Lisbon on 20th June 1941 on the Excalibur, the last American ship to leave Europe. In New York, he rented a studio in the Greenwich Village district: everything had to be improvised and started from scratch, "but his heart was not in sculpting. The news I received from France was too bad." And letters from Valentine were too rare, isolated, harassed and "stupefied" by the forces of destruction.

However in October 1941, Zadkine exhibited at the Galerie Wildenstein, gouaches for the main part. In March 1942, the Galerie Pierre Matisse invited him to take part in the exhibition "Artists in Exile" along with Léger, Chagall and Lipchitz …

Zadkine also worked as a teacher, particularly at the Art Students League.

Reading the book by Mario Meunier La légende dorée des dieux et des héros (The Golden Legend of Gods and Heroes) inspired him to create a series of drawings on The Labours of Hercules – heroic combat was a topical event and was expressed through the artistic and poetic symbolism of The Prisoner (1943) and Phoenix (1944), two remarkable sculptures from this period.

On 5th September 1945 Zadkine obtained his visa, and on the 28th September he disembarked at Le Havre.