Emeritus Faculty

Vera Klement, Painter Who Saw Both Beauty and Evil, Dies at 93

UChicago Photographic Archive, [adf1-10271], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collection Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Ms. Klement, a Holocaust survivor who was known for paintings that combined elements of Abstract Expressionism and figurative art, died on Oct. 20 in Evanston, Ill. She was 93.

Her death, at a retirement home, was confirmed by Max Shapey, her son. It was not widely reported outside Chicago.

Ms. Klement’s paintings — of basic subjects like trees, landscapes and human figures — were influenced by her love of music and literature.

UChicago Humanities Scholar Honored for His Work on French Culture

Thomas Pavel

An influential and original literary scholar, Prof. Emeritus Thomas Pavel recently received the 2023 Grand Prix de la Francophonie from the Académie Française for his contributions to the development of the French language and culture worldwide. His affection for past cultures, particularly the French and Francophone, inspired his research. Pavel sought meaning in both the famous aspects of the past and the half-forgotten ones.

“It is essential to study and teach the great books, but it is also fascinating to rediscover the less great books of the past,” said Pavel, the Gordon J. Laing Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Romance Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature, the Committee on Social Thought, and Fundamentals at UChicago. “These books tell us how the less grandiose, everyday culture of a certain period generated beautiful, meaningful art and thought.”

Five Questions for Author Linda Seidel about van Gogh and Summer Reading

Places that Vincent van Gogh painted and frequented while in Arles, including the Place du Forum, have become major tourist attractions in the ancient city. Copyright: Shutterstock.com

In “Vincent’s Arles,” art historian and University of Chicago Emerita Prof. Linda Seidel takes readers on a tour of Arles, France, where Vincent van Gogh spent 15 months, beginning in 1888. The artist produced several of his best-known and most striking paintings during this time. The following interview has been edited and condensed.

Q: Van Gogh’s stay in Arles was productive and resulted in bold art. How was his time there transformational for him?

Vincent had connected with the Impressionists in Paris and was inspired by their brighter colors and technique; this began a transformation in his work that came to fruition in Arles. Once settled there, he came to regard the Impressionists as too rooted in the optical and, in Seurat’s case, as overly constrained by scientific color theory. He began to appreciate the value of the imagined or reflected upon, something that Gauguin’s short visit with him reinforced, despite its grim end. Gauguin preached rumination rather than spontaneity in painting.

UChicago Composer to Debut Opera about Anne Frank

Shulamit Ran photo by Valerie Booth

Prof. Shulamit Ran first read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl at age 12 while growing up in Israel. The book’s power never waned, and over the years the University of Chicago composer has written several works with a focus on the Holocaust during her Pulitzer Prize-winning career.

Now, Ran has returned to Anne Frank by creating the music for a full-scale opera based on Frank’s remarkable diary—a project into which she said she poured tremendous mental and emotional energy. Titled Anne Frank, the work will premiere on March 3 at Indiana University.

“The topic of Anne Frank was one that I thought about at different times and from various perspectives. As in my other works that speak to the difficult subject of the Holocaust, my desire through music has been to say: ‘Do not forget,’” said Ran, the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor Emerita in the Department of Music. “From the moment that I decided that I would indeed create an opera that has the diary of Anne Frank at its center, I felt I had taken on a huge responsibility and, with responsibility, comes risk. She has become such an incredible, larger-than-life, iconic figure for so many throughout the world. Yet it was important for me that my opera be about a real person, not a figure that you put on a pedestal.”