Galerie Marcilhac - Paris

April 1st 2016 to May 14th 2016


Formed to the requirements of modern art and most specifically to those of the nascent cubist School, the sculpted work of Chana Orloff fully contributes to the art of the twentieth century.

Born in Ukraine, in the small village of Tsare-Constantinovska, in July 12, 1888, Chana Orloff arrived in Paris in August 1910. It wants to continue her training as a seamstress and enrolled in the evening classes of the “Little School” located at 10bis rue de Seine. Noticed by her art teacher, Mr. Bruneau, and advised by Paul Vitry, curator at the Louvre who introduced her to the art history, she practices modeling and was noted for the excellence of her work. In 1912, a certificate of completion of education allows her to obtain a grant to devote herself exclusively to her art studies by presenting the entrance examination to the School of Decorative Arts where she received second. Meanwhile she studied specifically sculpture attending Vassilieff Academy. Created by the Russian-born painter and sculptor woman, Marie Vassilieff, student of Henri Matisse, this workshop is free available to artists who may receive accommodation and food, everyone can work there according to his temperament and pace. Rendez-vous of the parisian artistic and literary vanguard, it is in the excitement of this artistic environment that Chana Orloff became friends with young artists such as Modigliani, Picasso, Fujita or Diego Rivera and young poets like Apollinaire, Cocteau and Max Jacob.

Executing her first sculptures, Chana Orloff participates in Paris at the Salon d’Automne of 1913. Her shipment consists of two wooden busts. She is developing what will be her first feature : treatment of smooth flat tints surfaces, absence of realistic ornamentations, elongated deformations volumes. Positioned in full of humor anecdotal attitudes, if not mischievous, her portraits contrast with the academic stiffness conducive to those of that time. They suggest more than they show the model in a stylized front attitude which makes them perfectly identifiable, Chana Orloff had the idear to emphasize a trait heavy eyelids, a mouth with a voluptuous cutting or a crane with a characteristic roundness. At the Salon des Indépendants of 1922, her portraits of Parisian personalities of the fashion world, the press and the arts, are celebrated by critics. Never being cruel, Chana Orloff amplifies volumes, overly emphasizes a particular feature or defect, likes to point out such a dress style refinement.

In a surprising truth and revealing the deep personality of their model they are all perfectly identifiable and fall of great sensitivity, their deformation based on a mocking veracity full of finesse. The portrait of the art editor “Lucien Vogel” (1921) with its heavy-lidded eyes and its har strand as well as the designer “Georges Lepape” (1924) with his chubby face and his tie-scarf are one and the other indicative of this comic approach full of malice which beyond the figurative anecdote reflects a spirituality wit an highly significant psychological content. Here the simplistic appeal to a kind of formal archaism appears as the need to find the deeper meaning of the image in the tradition.

From the beginning, her work is considered by art critics. They emphasize the peaceful ordering of volumes, flowing lines and harmonious of plans that emerges, obtained without sacrificing the splitting of the masses and plans as practiced by her friends painters of the Cubist school. Some of the most significant works of this period are offered in this exhibition such "Lady pregnant" (1916), "Lady with a Fan" (1920), "Ida Chagall" (1923), "Grande bather squatting "(1925) or" Athlete - Bather "(1927). This innovative first stylized figurative way that Chana Orloff develops almost to the late twenties, it is only a stage in her research for a visual vocabulary more personal. Thus, the beginning of the next decade is characterized by setting of a static representation freezing the movement and solidifying the masses.

If the sculpture of "Laurent Monnier" (1926), foreshadowed this evolution, "Nude" (1933) and "Torso" (1934) are the obvious result through their instantaneous static which is significant of a re transposed figuration.

It is through the same approach that Chana Orloff addresses the animal world whose the figurative volumetric treatment reflects the profound nature of each represented subject : warrior is the "Bird" (1924) , the vain "Turkey" ( 1925), the affectionate "Basset"(1927 ) , concerned the "Fish" (1927) . The graphic transcription of their volumes and the simplifying of their line plots of their plans to the undeniable plastic qualities make them obvious.

Strongly influenced by the atrocities of war, getting back to work, her style is hardened and her approach seeks more militant. It results works like "The Return"(1945) , "War and Peace" ( 1951) or "Chimera and Lion" (1952) which marked her last researches on a realistic figuration, re transposed with a edifying scope that characterize the end of her work when she died in 1968 in Tel Aviv during the preparation of a retrospective exhibition dedicated to her by the Modern Art Museum of the city.