Chana Orloff (1888-1986) was born in a small town in Ukraine and was the eighth of nine children. In 1905, her family emigrated to Palestine and in 1910, Orloff moved to Paris to become an apprentice in the haute couture house of Paquin. The following year, she ranked second in the entrance competition for the School of Decorative Arts. She met numerous artists, including Picasso, Apollinaire, and Modigliani, and created her first sculpture, a portrait of her grandmother
The sculptor Chana Orloff became the portraitist of the Parisian elite in the early twenties, with portraiture remaining one of her favourite themes. She exhibited in Paris and Amsterdam and had her atelier and home built by Auguste Perret in Villa Seurat, in the 14th arrondissement in Paris.
Villa Seurat, an enclave of artists' studio-houses, is partially attributed to the architectural contributions of André Lurçat, a key figure in the Modernist movement. Between 1924 and 1928, Lurçat designed eight of the studio-houses, including one (number 4) intended for his brother, the painter Jean Lurçat. The villa attracted various artists, including Salvador Dalí, André Derain, Chaïm Soutine, as well as literary figures like Antonin Artaud and Henry Miller. Notably, Miller penned "Tropic of Cancer' while living at number 18.
The residence of Chana Orloff at number 7B can be visited on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons. Her granddaughter, who lives on the upper floors, provides a tour of the atelier in very rapid French.
The Musée Zadkine
is the first French museum to dedicate a monographic exhibition to Chana Orloff, one of the most famous sculptors of the École de Paris. This exhibition is open until 31 March 2024.