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Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre?

December 10, 2000 - March 25, 2001

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Charlotte Salomon
Collection of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
© The Charlotte Salomon Foundation



Charlotte Salomon
Life? or Theatre?: A Play With Music,1940-42
Gouache, 12" x 9"
Collection of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
© The Charlotte Salomon Foundation


Charlotte's suicidal mother, Franziska, describes the afterlife she yearns for and promises to tell her daughter what Heaven is like in a letter which she will personally deliver as an angel.

Salomon's caption: "Franziska: 'In Heaven everything is much more beautiful than here on earth - and when your Mummy has turned into a little angel she'll come down and bring her little lambkin, she'll bring a letter, telling her what it's like in Heaven, what it's like up there in Heaven.' Franziska was of a somewhat sentimental disposition. She would often take the child to bed with her and tell her about a life after death in celestial spheres, a life that was said to be simply glorious and for which she seemed to have a terrible yearning, and she often asked Charlotte whether it wouldn't be wonderful if her mother were to turn into an angel with wings. Charlotte agreed that it would, only she asked her mother not to forget to tell her in a letter - which she was to deliver personally as an angel and deposit on Charlotte's windowsill - what it was like up there in Heaven."


Charlotte Salomon
Life? or Theatre?: A Play With Music, 1940-42
Gouache, 12" x 9"
Collection of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
© The Charlotte Salomon Foundation


Charlotte Salomon prepares for her entrance examination to attend the Berlin Art Academy.


Charlotte Salomon
Life? or Theatre?: A Play With Music, 1940-42
Gouache, 12" x 9"
Collection of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
© The Charlotte Salomon Foundation


The last dinner party that Charlotte Salomon attended at her parents' home. The guests, faced with rising anti-Semitism, announce their future plans to leave Germany.


Charlotte Salomon
Life? or Theatre?: A Play With Music, 1940-42
Gouache, 12" x 9"
Collection of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
© The Charlotte Salomon Foundation


Charlotte and her mentor, Amadeus Daberlohn (Alfred Wolfsohn), begin a tempestuous relationship.

Salomon's caption: "He suddenly finds Charlotte significant for his theories of the future. Daberlohn: 'To judge by the various expressions on your face, you are quite a fertile object for me. Only you must control your face a bit more, it's not necessary for all the world to know what you're thinking.'"


Charlotte Salomon
Life? or Theatre?: A Play With Music, 1940-42
Gouache, 12" x 9"
Collection of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
© The Charlotte Salomon Foundation


Charlotte Salomon constantly painting during her stay with her grandparents in the South of France.

Salomon's caption: "High on a cliff grow pepper trees - softly the wind stirs the small silvery leaves. Far below, foam eddies and melts in the infinite span of the sea. Foam, dreams - my dreams on a blue surface. What makes you shape and reshape yourselves so brightly from so much pain and suffering? Who gave you the right? Dream, speak to me - whose lackey are you? Why are you rescuing me? High up on a cliff grow pepper trees. Softly the wind stirs the small silvery leaves."


Charlotte Salomon
Life? or Theatre?: A Play With Music, 1940-42
Gouache, 12" x 9"
Collection of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
© The Charlotte Salomon Foundation


The final image of Life? or Theatre? shows Charlotte beginning to paint.

Salomon's caption: "Life or Theatre?"