To Paint Her Life: Charlotte Salomon in the Nazi Era

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9780060171056: To Paint Her Life: Charlotte Salomon in the Nazi Era

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 2 intense, suspenseful years creating a lifetime's work--more than 700 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 spent 10 years of searching for & interviewing Salomon's relatives & classmates, her mentor's students, her acquaintances in exile, & survivors of the concentration camps. Felstiner shapes an immensely moving account of a woman haunted by personal trauma & trapped in grim historical conditions. TO PAINT HER LIFE resounds with the artist's own words & 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 & 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 & 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 100,000 Jews. With Salomon & Brunner representing creation and destruction in sharp contrast, Felstiner brings together previously unknown facts of their 2 lives & opens provocative ne perspectives on gender and genocide.

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From the Publisher:

A remarkable biography of a Jewish artist whose vivid autobiographical portraits provide a stunning look at her life as a woman, an artist, and a Jew during the Holocaust.

About the Author:

Mary Lowenthal Felstiner is Professor of History at San Francisco State University.

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