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Des(t)ins de guerre

Véronique Koehler

It has the aspect of a solid block, bound in strong cardboard, with pages that are lined. It is a surprising object, like an armoured book, as if it was made to protect a very frail content. But actually, that is the case, as it includes the thirty-two war drawings Zadkine did in 1916 under acrobatic conditions, on pieces of paper found by chance, with charcoal, ink or pencil. The artist was let off from the army in 1917, and based on this first set of colour drawings, he went to his workshop on rue Rousselet (he did not set up in the one on rue d’Assas, where his museum stands today, until 1928) and produced a portfolio of etchings. His idea was to retransmit the tragedy and the boredom of the Champagne front where he was a porter with the Russian troops – of the injured on stretchers, hospitals, chess players – but also to make up for the “drastic lack of income.” Only four notebooks remain from the original fifty, among them the one that entered the musée Zadkine in 1993, and the artist definitely did not become wealthy through this project. They are all exhibited today together for the first time, and until 5 February 2017 and their value is difficult to estimate, equal in any case to the parallel work of Fernand Léger.

Des(t)ins de guerre, by Véronique Koehler, Paris Musées, 2016, 196 p., €35.

Des(t)ins de guerre - Véronique Koehler

Review published in the newsletter #454 - from 22 December 2016 to 11 January 2017

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