To Paint Her Life

To Paint Her Life : Charlotte Salomon in the Nazi Era

4.31 (41 ratings by Goodreads)

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A courageous Jewish artist who left behind a monumental archive of paintings comes alive in this extraordinary biography. Charlotte Salomon, born in Germany in 1917, exiled to France in 1939, spent the next two intense, suspenseful years creating a lifetime's work - more than seven hundred watercolors overlaid by written texts and tunes that captured the dramatic events of her own life. This luminous work stands alone in the history of art and of autobiography. It is the most innovative record we have from the midst of the Holocaust, a visual path through those dark times.Salomon's work survives intact in Amsterdam, but until now no one has unfolded the real life behind the painted one. Mary Felstiner now accomplishes exactly that, after ten years of searching for and interviewing Salomon's relatives and classmates, her mentor's students, her acquaintances in exile, and survivors of the concentration camps. Merging their memories with exhaustive archival research, Felstiner shapes an immensely moving account of a woman haunted by personal trauma and trapped in grim historical conditions.To Paint Her Life resounds with the artist's own words and images. We see her losing her mother to suicide. Being admitted to the prestigious Berlin Art Academy and then expelled. Witnessing the rising tide of Nazism. Falling in love and suffering loss. Leaving her home for exile on the Riviera. Choosing whether to take her own life - or to put it into art. Painting secrets her family kept from her and secrets she kept from them. Making choices that speak to us all - to love someone, to leave a home, to face memories, to recount it all.To Paint Her Life also traces a shadow story behind Charlotte Salomon's - that of Alois Brunner, Eichmann's right-hand man, the notorious SS officer responsible for deporting to death camps more than a hundred thousand Jews - including many hidden on the Riviera. With Salomon and Brunner representing creation and destruction in sharp contrast, Felstiner brings together previously unknown facts of their two lives and opens provocative new perspectives on gender and genocide.As a feminist biography, a chronicle of emotional experience in the Nazi era, and a rediscovery of artistic genius hidden for too long, To Paint Her Life shimmers with Charlotte Salomon's vision and the terrible poignancy of her loss.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 290 pages
  • 165 x 241 x 31.75mm | 640g
  • HarperCollins
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • illustrations (some colour)
  • 0060171057
  • 9780060171056

Rating details

41 ratings
4.31 out of 5 stars
5 44% (18)
4 44% (18)
3 12% (5)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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