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Chana Orloff

ORLOFF, CHANA (1888–1968), French sculptor. Born in Staro-Konstantinov, Ukraine, Orloff left her native country at the age of 16 for Palestine, but six years later moved to Paris where she remained. She studied at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, and her work was exhibited, for the first time, at the Salon d'Automne of 1910. *Modigliani made a portrait of her in 1912. Chana Orloff visited the United States in 1929 and 1938 and exhibited there at the Marie Sterner Gallery, New York, and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She managed to survive in France during the Nazi occupation although her studio was raided and most of her works there were stolen or destroyed. After the war, she paid several visits to Israel where she made two public monuments: a bronze statue in Ramat Gan depicting the struggle of the Jewish underground and a stone group in Ein Gev. In 1961, the museums in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and En-Harod honored her with a retrospective exhibition, covering 50 years.

She made many portraits in bronze of well-known contemporaries, such as David Ben-Gurion, Sholem Asch, Shmarya Levin, the actress Hanna Rovina, and the painter Reuven Rubin. She also carved subjects in wood. These include female nudes, mothers with children, men and women sitting or standing, and a variety of birds. Though a contemporary of the cubists, she did not eliminate realistic detail. Her work was realistic and heavily stylized. A mild swing toward abstraction was noticeable in the bronzes she did in the 1950s and 1960s. She could be tenderly lyrical, but also very ironic, especially in her portrait busts. She created for herself an entirely individual mode of expression.


L. Werth, Chana Orloff (Fr., 1927); H. Gamzu, Chana Orloff (Heb., 1949); G. Talpir, Chana Orloff (Heb., 1950).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.