Chana Orloff - biography
Chana Orloff (1888-1968) was a Jewish figurative sculptor who was born in Ukraine. She and her family immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1905, when it was part of the Ottoman Empire. She found a job as a cutter and seamstress in Jaffa, where she joined Hapoel Hatzair (The Young Worker), and assisted other recent immigrants.
After five years in Israel, she was offered a job teaching cutting and dressmaking at a Herzliyah High School and was helped by her brother to go to Paris to study fashion. Soon after arriving in Paris, she decided to study art instead, and enrolled in sculpture classes at the Académie Russe in Montparnasse.
She became friendly with other young Jewish artists including Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Amedeo Modigliani, Pascin, Chaim Soutine, and Ossip Zadkine, and in 1913, Orloff exhibited in the Salon d'Automne.
In 1916, Orloff married Ary Justman, a Warsaw-born writer and poet. The couple had a son, but Ary died of influenza in the epidemic of 1919.
When the Nazis invaded Paris, Orloff fled to Switzerland with her son and the Jewish painter Georges Kars. In February 1945, Kars committed suicide in Geneva, after which Orloff returned to Paris with her son, to find that her house had been ransacked and the sculptures in her studio destroyed.
Following Israel’s independence, Orloff began spending an increasing amount of time there. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art held an exhibition of 37 of her sculptures in 1949. She remained in Israel for about a year in order to complete a sculpture of David Ben-Gurion, The Hero Monument to the defenders of Ein Gev and The Motherhood Monument in memory of Chana Tuckman who died during the Israeli War of Independence. Chana Orloff died in Israel on December 16, 1968.
In addition to monuments, Orloff sculpted portraits of Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and future Prime Minister Levi Eshkol; the architects Pierre Chareau, and Auguste Perret; painters Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, and Per Krohg; and the poets Hayyim Nahman Bialik, and Pierre Mac Orlan.