Dr. Catherine Stodolsky

Nikolaistr. 4

80802 München

Tel.: 089/ 33 81 22

e-mail: u93220@mail.lrz-muechen.de











Malva Schalek


(1882 - 1944)






Prague – Vienna- Theresienstadt – Auschwitz











Malva Schalek


(1882 - 1944)








Malva Schalek`s name  is practically unknown.  This is particularly unjust given the fact that her art has frequently been reproduced  in books about the concentration camp Theresienstadt.  Yet little or no information about the painter and her life and work has been available until recently.  But  this month the Jewish Museum in Prague has purchased one of her portraits.  Two canvases of hers hang  in a Viennese Museum and in the Town hall ;  these two oils, one of the famous actor Max Pallenberg, the other of the “boudoir” of the emperor’s mistress, Katarina Schratt were included in the  Vienna exhibition  “Women Painters in Austria (1999).


The  fact that her drawings from Theresienstadt , which the art historian Tom Freudenheim   has characterized as being “perhaps the finest and most complete artistic oeuvre to survive the Holocaust” were  produced, found, saved and maintained in good condition is a wonder and reason enough to create a Malva Schalek exhibition.  During the years in  which she was interned in Theresienstadt, Malva was able to create an astounding number of drawings which describe the day to day life in the camp.   The works are often sensitive, using color and line to great effect.  And the depictions of women working, barracks life, and scenes of the Theresienstadt fortress and its surroundings gives insight into the conditions under which the internees lived and worked.   Schalek works almost like a courtroom artist,  in a place where no cameras could record, revealing a sense of near normalcy when in fact most inmates faced almost certain death. 


In this exhibition, works representing a happier period in Vienna and Prague will be juxtaposed with images of suffering and death in Theresienstadt.  Malva Schalek´s life and work offers the contemporary observer  the opportunity to consider the world which we have lost.


1.         Biographical Dates


2.18.1882     Birth in Prague as fourth child of Gustav and

                     Balduine Schalek, née Simon


1884-1896          Elementary School in Prague


From 1896     Middle School in Hohenelbe


1900-1901     Private Art Academy for Women, Munich with



1901               move to Vienna, studies with       

                       Heymann and  Thor


From 1903      independent Atelier in the     

                       Theater and der Wien


1917               Exhibits in the Secession in Vienna


  regular Summer stays in Aussig, Türmitz and Bad Ischl (in the summer  ..house of Johann Strauß and Joseph von Simon) 


1920`s            various Exhibits in Vienna and Prague and in the             

                      Artists Association Show     


July 1938        Flight from Vienna to Leitmeritz


1940                Flight to Prague


2.2 1942          Last letter before  forced internment in



5.18.1944        Deportation to Auschwitz