Nu debout is an outstanding and unique example of Zadkine's passion for wood carving. Like many of his contemporaries in Paris, Zadkine broke free from the academic style which prevailed at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, developing a keen interest in primitivism and African art. At the same time, in the early 1920s, Zadkine increasingly turned his attention to the standing form, creating a group of works which have been described as 'veritable poems in stone, wood or alabaster'. His figures combine sharp planes and angular lines with a dynamic rhythm previously unseen in his works. Carving directly in wood and stone, Zadkine imbues his sculptures, as did Brancusi and Modigliani, with a purity and clarity of form and one can see in the present work how well Zadkine explores the qualities of the ebony, bringing out the best in the material properties of the wood. As Ionel Jianou states, 'These eyeless statues stare at us with their whole bodies. A quiver of sensuality, desire and purity animates the slightly rounded surfaces of these young, tall, slim, lissom, highly polished and occasionally lacquered bodies, over which light fairly streams' (I. Jianou, Zadkine, Paris, 1964, pp. 54-56).