The Life and Art of Charlotte Salomon

- Berry, Donald*
While a refugee in Nice, France, 23-year-old Charlotte Salomon painted and provided staging instructions for an “opera” of her life completed with 800 gouache drawings, directions for music and over leaves with additional text. The title of the work is the provocative Leben? oder Theater? Ein Singespiel (Life? or Theater? A Musical Play). Charlotte did not survive the Holocaust. Before her arrest she entrusted the pages of the manuscript to a neighbor, with the words, “Take good care of them. They are my whole life.” Her illustrations serve as windows through which we may view her experience within her dysfunctional family, struggles with adolescence, encounters with antisemitism, and life as an exile. The diary concentrates on Charlotte Salomon’s childhood and youth. From her art, we can learn much about what is was like for the Jewish population of Germany in WWII Europe. We also encounter the particular stresses of life in her suicide-prone family and the coping mechanisms Charlotte employed to conquer her own compulsion to commit suicide. Visuals of diary pages and audios of accompanying music will guide both lecture and discussion.

Large screen suitable for presentation; speakers which can be attached to laptop computer (optional)