A + D 419 • Prof. Phoebe Gloeckner
Monday and Wednesday 6:30-9:30
Art + Architecture Bldg. 2043
Gloeckner's web site
School of Art and Design
U of M
Charlotte Salomon was born in 1917 and lived the early part of her life in Berlin. Being a German Jew, Salomon fled Berlin for the French Riviera in 1939 which at this time was still unoccupied by German forces. She lived there for three years as a refugee until she was deported to Auschwitz in 1943 where she would eventually die in 1949. Between 1940 and 1942, she painted 1,325 notebook-sized gouaches, accompanied by textual narration and musical cues. Of these, she selected 769 paintings, arranged them into acts and scenes, and titled the final work Leben? oder Theater? (Life? or Theater?) with the subtitle Ein Singespiel (A Play with Music/An Operetta).
The main character of this work is named Charlotte Kann, which translates from German into Charlotte Able. This character was of course based on herself and her own life. Charlotte created this series of paintings as a visual record of the Nazi era, but also as a visual narrative of her own experiences during this time. She was said to have told a friend when packing away her work to, "Keep this safe. It is my whole life." It is quite interesting and powerful to see these works almost like snapshots in the photo album of a single life during the era of World War II. While these paintings are specific to Salomon's life, they could also be seen as representative of any person who experienced the oppression of Nazi Germany.