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Malva Schalek, aka Malvina Schalková (18 February 1882 – 1944), was a Czech-Jewish painter.
Malva Schalek was born in Prague to a German-speaking Jewish intellectual family active in the Czech national movement. She went to school in Prague, Vrchlabi (Hohenelbe), and studied art, first at the Frauenakademie in Munich and then privately in Vienna. She earned her living as a painter in Vienna, in her studio above the Theater an der Wien, until July 1938, when she was forced to flee from the Nazis, leaving her paintings behind. Only some 30 works from this period have been recovered; two were found in the Historisches Museum Wien. One of these, a nearly life-sized oil portrait of the actor Max Pallenberg, is currently[when?] being returned to the family by the restitution authority.
Schalek was deported to Terezin (Theresienstadt) ghetto in February 1942, where she produced more than 100 drawings and watercolors portraying fellow inmates and their life there. Because of her refusal to portray a collaborationist doctor, she was deported to Auschwitz on 18 May 1944, where she perished.
Her work, especially her drawings of the camp at Theresienstadt, is characterized by a sober realism. These drawings have been described by Tom L. Freudenheim, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, as "perhaps the finest and most complete artistic oeuvre to survive the Holocaust." Recovered after the liberation, most are in the art collection of the Ghetto Fighters' House museum at kibbutz Lohamei HaGeta'ot in Israel.
- Spiritual Resistance: Art from Concentration Camps, 1940-1945: a Selection of Drawings and Paintings from the Collection of Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot, Israel, with essays by Miriam Novitch, Lucy S. Dawidowicz, and Tom L. Freudenheim. Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Jewish Publication Society of America, Baltimore Museum of Art, 1981 ISBN 0807401579, 9780807401576
- Heinrich Fuchs, Die österreichischen Maler der Geburtsjahrgänge 1881-1900. Heinrich Fuchs, Selbstverl., 1977
- Pnina Rosenberg, Images and Reflections: Women in the Art of the Holocaust (exhibition catalogue) Israel: Beit Lohamei Haghetaot, Spring 2002
- Catherine Stodolsky, Die gebürtige Pragerin Malvina Schalek. Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente 10 (2003): 145-161.