Charlotte Salomon exhibition, Royal Academy: ephemera
Charlotte Salomon was born in Berlin in 1917 into a cultured and assimilated middle class Jewish family, and died in Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 26. 'Life or Theatre?' is the name she gave to a sequence of nearly 800 gouaches she produced between 1940 and 1942. Subtitled 'a play with music', it combines images, texts and musical references to recreate a life scarred both by family tragedy and Nazi persecution, yet interspersed with moments of intense happiness and love.
In 1939 Charlotte Salomon found refuge in the south of France; but a year later, while she tried in vain to dissuade her grandmother from committing suicide, she also learnt of the much earlier suicides of her mother and her aunt. 'Life or Theatre?' was her death-defying response. Before her deportation to Auschwitz she handed the work to a local physician. Miraculously the gouaches survived.
This collection comprises leaflets, fliers and other ephemera relating to an exhibition of the works of Charlotte Salomon, which took place at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 1998.