Born on July 14, 1890 in Smolensk, Belarus of Jewish extraction, he is primarily known as a sculptor but also produced paintings and lithographs.
After attending art school in London, England, Zadkine settled in Paris about 1910, where he became part of the new Cubist movement (1914 - 1925). After this time, he developed an original style, strongly influenced by primitive arts.
He served as a stretcher-bearer in World War I, and was wounded in action. He spent the years of World War II in exile in America.
His best-known work is probably the sculpture "The Destroyed City", a memorial to the wanton destruction of the center of Rotterdam by the Germans in 1940.
He taught at his Zadkine School of Sculpture.
Ossip Zadkine died on November 25, 1967 in Paris, France and was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris.