Born in Paris in 1906, Gabriel Zendel’s mother, Regina Jaskierowitz, was originally from Poland. His French father took him to work with him at his book shop in avenue Jean-Jaurès, Paris, when Gabriel was fourteen years old and encouraged him to paint. The young Zendel set up an easel in the back of the shop where he would paint for hours. In 1925, Zendel enrolled in the Institut d’Esthétique Contemporaine (Institute of Contemporary Aesthetics) in Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, where Paul Bornet was a professor. The following year he was called up for national service and was sent to Morocco for eighteen months. Back in Paris, he resumed studying under Paul Bornet who taught him the techniques of printmaking. He studied there for three years but in his spare time earned a living by working in advertising.
In 1929, Zendel sold his first painting Landscape of Montmartre and enjoyed a certain celebrity. On the request of Jean Cassou, the celebrated art critic, the state bought one of his paintings. In 1931 he had his first one-man show at the Galerie Zak in Paris, a venue that would hold many shows of his work in the ensuing years
After the war broke out, he was mobilized to serve in a hospital train. He continued to draw and sent his works to Amiens, with a view to organizing an exhibition, but everything was lost when the city was destroyed. In December 1939, he married Agathe Schneider. He was discharged from service in July and returned to Paris. He was arrested but managed to escape and settled in Cannes where he painted relentlessly. Following the war, he returned to his studio in Paris and commenced exhibiting once more. By this time his work was being recognized for its perception and adherence to the principles of the avant-garde. A number of important exhibitions followed which included works shown at the Salon des Peintres Temoins de leur Temps and Salon des Tuileries. In 1947, Zendel produced twenty-five drawings for Léon-Paul Fargue’s Le Cirque (the circus) and planned to publish a book on dance. However, this plan remained a draft. In 1949, he went to America on the occasion of an exhibition of his works at the Durand-Ruel gallery in New York.
Zendel would continue to paint for the remainder of his life, enjoying success for many years. His work today is housed at a number of important institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.