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Life? Or theatre?

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Life? Or theatre?

Charlotte Salomon

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ISBN 13: 978-1-4683-1369-7
Trim Size: 11.5" x 11.5"
Overlook Press

Product Description

The first complete edition of the art of Charlotte Salomon, published for the 100 year anniversary of her birth

"This is my whole life," Charlotte Salomon said when she gave her doctor and friend the enormous suitcase containing her life’s work for safekeeping. Life? Or theatre? is the result of months of restless work in a small room in a hostel during which Charlotte Salomon appealed to everything inside her: her perfect visual memory, her insight into family and friends, her education at the Art Academy in Berlin and, most of all, the inspiration of her short but intense love for her stepmother’s singing teacher.

That is how Charlotte created this singular work of art, a graphic novel avant la lettre, consisting of 781 gouaches and hundreds of drawings—a mixture of paintings, texts, and musical annotations—which together tell the story of a family between World War I and 1940. In more than one gouache, influences of George Grosz and Modigliani are recognizable, while others are foretastes of the contemporary graphic novel. The work shimmers with beauty and precision. This timeless masterpiece, now published for the first time in a complete edition including several recently discovered gouaches, is truly a unique work by an artist whose life inspired not only David Foenkinos’s internationally bestselling novel Charlotte but also a movie, a documentary, an opera and a ballet.

Sold in an elegantly printed box, this deluxe edition contains over 1,300 color illustrations as well as illuminating essays on Charlotte Salomon's life and work by a close friend of the Salomon family and by curators of past exhibitions of Salomon's artwork. Featuring a revealing, recently-discovered letter from Charlotte Salomon to Amadeus Daberlohn, translated into English for the first time and with invaluable annotations by Salomon scholars Darcy Buerkle and Mary Felstiner, this edition of Life? Or theatre? is truly the definitive collection of Charlotte Salomon's work.

“Perhaps the greatest book of the twentieth century . . . a kind of counterpoint to The Diary of Anne Frank. As a work of visual art, it is a triumph. As a novel, it is a triumph.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated

Charlotte Salomon (Berlin 1917-Auschwitz 1943) was the only child of surgeon Albert Salomon and Fränze Grunwald, and was raised in an assimilated Jewish family. In 1935, she was admitted to the Art Academy of Berlin. When the persecution of Jews intensified after Kristallnacht, she fled to her grandparents in France. After the beginning of the war, she and her grandfather were sent to the camp Gurs, in the Pyrenees. In July they were allowed, because of his advanced age, to return to Nice, where a doctor advised Charlotte to start again with her creative work as a way to help process her experiences. She completed Life? Or theatre? in 1942.

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PG Wodehouse