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The Clark University History Department presented "Death and the Maydl: Jewish Femininity and the Denial of Beauty in the Art of Marc Chagall," a talk by Olga Litvak, associate professor of history and the first incumbent of the Michael and Lisa Leffell Chair in Modern Jewish History at Clark.

Litvak explored perceptions of beauty in the work of acclaimed Belorussian Jewish artist Marc Chagall. Chagall’s work frequently featured images of Jewish women—particularly his first wife Bella—that allude to his romance with Jewish Eastern Europe. Professor Litvak raised the question, "Why does Chagall's beloved always look like a corpse?"

Litvak joined the Clark faculty this fall. She previously served as director of the Center for Jewish Studies at University at Albany, State University of New York. She has written and lectured on a wide range of subjects related to the study of Russian Jewry, including urban violence, literary and artistic life, war, revolution and migration. The editor of the Painting and Sculpture section of the landmark YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe (Yale, 2008), Litvak has also been pursuing the study of Jewish participation in the making of modern Russian visual culture.

Olga Litvak
"Death and the Maydl: Jewish Femininity and the Denial of Beauty in the Art of Marc Chagall"
October 23, 2008
Tilton Hall, Higgins University Center, Clark University
RT: 94 minutes

Sponsored by:
Clark University History Department
Press Release