Thursday, July 20, 2017

The obsessive art and great confession of Charlotte Salomon

By Toni Bentley
A 1940 self-portrait of Salomon (1917-1943), whose autobiographical work “Life? or Theatre?” is an early example of the graphic novel. Courtesy the Jewish Historical Museum © Charlotte Salomon Foundation
Painter, auteur, enigma, murderer. The work of the German Jewish artist, killed in the Holocaust, has long been overshadowed by her life and times. Separating Salomon’s work from the ill-defined, unutterably sad category of “Holocaust Art” has proved an impossible task, and this teutonic Scherherezade has meandered through the decades, curiously under the radar to all but the cognoscenti. The mischaracterization of her work is easy to trace: “Life? or Theatre?” is the largest single work of art created by a Jew during the Holocaust and, more often than not, her work is exhibited in Jewish and Holocaust museums. [More]
A panel in “Life? or Theatre?” in which a sign for a Nazi newspaper reads, “German men and women! Take your revenge!!!!!!!!!! Once Jewish blood spurts from the knife, you’ll have by far a better life.”Courtesy the Jewish Historical Museum © Charlotte Salomon Foundation