Life? or Theatre? A Selection of 450 Gouaches
by Judith Belinfante and Evelyn Benesch
|Format:||Hardcover, clothbound with 2 color silkscreened illustration and bellyband|
|Page Extent:||600 pages|
|Book Size:||172 x 240 mm (Height x Width x Depth)|
Painting For Her Life
Charlotte Salomon’s artistic feat under the Third Reich When German artist Charlotte Salomon (1917–1943) handed her gouache series Life? or Theater? over to a friend, she beseeched him to “take good care of it, it is my entire life.” A few months later, the five-months pregnant Charlotte was picked up by a Gestapo truck, deported to Drancy, and then on to Auschwitz, where she died upon arrival at the age 26.
Trauma haunts many of the pages, but there is defiance, too. Born of a family plagued by depression, the work Salomon left behind is, in a very real sense, her pièce de résistance – in her own words, “something wildly eccentric.”
A cycle of nearly 1,300 autobiographical gouaches, it combines creative force with pioneering personal narrative into one shattering document of self-expression.
Divided into three sections, the gouaches unveil a vivid self-portrait spanning across all facets of Charlotte's existence: from a complicated family life, marked by the suicides of nearly all female relatives; growing up in Berlin; her close relation to singing teacher Alfred Wolfsohn; the rise of the Nazis; to her exile to France in 1939.
Throughout, the artist challenges these destructive forces by deploying playful pseudonyms and fantastical elements alongside emotional candor, remarkable observation, and a meticulous visual memory.