Chana Orloff was born in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine). She immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in 1905 and settled in Jaffa, where she found a job as a cutter and seamstress. Zvi Nishri (Orloff), the pioneer in physical education in Israel, was her brother.
She joined Hapoel Hatzair workers movement. After five years in the country, she was offered a teaching position in cutting and dressmaking at Gymnasia Herzliya. She went to Paris to study fashion but chose art instead, enrolling in sculpture classes at the Académie Russe in Montparnasse. In 1916, she 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, to find that her house had been ransacked and the sculptures in her studio destroyed.
In Paris, Orloff became friendly with other young Jewish artists, among them Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Amedeo Modigliani, Pascin, Chaim Soutine, and Ossip Zadkine. In 1913, she exhibited in the Salon d'Automne. After the establishment of the State of Israel, 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. 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.
Orloff died in Israel on December 16, 1968.
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- Birnbaum, Paula J. Women Artists in Interwar France: Framing Femininities, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2011.
- Kikoïne, Yankel, Chana Orloff, Paris, Musée Bourdelle, 1988, ISBN 2-901784-12-7.
- Kofler, Hana, Chana Orloff: Line & Substance, 1912-1968. Tefen: the Open Museum, Tefen Industrial Park, 1993.
- Marcilhac, Félix. Chana Orloff, Paris: Editions de l’Amateur, 1991.
- Musée Rodin, Chana Orloff; sculptures et dessins, Paris, Musée Rodin, 1971,
- Richard de la Fuente, Véronique, Dada à Barcelone, 1914-1918: Chronique de l'avant-garde artistique parisienne en exil en Catalogne pendant la grande guerre: Francis Picabia, Manolo Hugue, Serge Charchoune, Marie Laurencin, Olga Sacharoff, Franck Burty, Chana Orloff, Albert Gleizes, Kees van Dongen, Arthur Cravan, Otto Lloyd, Pau Gargallo, S et R Delaunay, Céret, Albères, 2001, ISBN 2-9517196-0-4.
- The Tel-Aviv Museum, Chana Orloff: Exposition Retrospective, 120 Sculptures, 60 Designs, Tel-Aviv Museum, 1969.
- Biography in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Women at the Jewish Women's Archive
- Chana Orloff in American public collections, on the French Sculpture Census website
- Official web site
- "Chana Orloff". Information Center for Israeli Art. Israel Museum. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
- Chana Orloff collection at the Israel Museum. Retrieved February 2012.
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