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Sheet: 29.3 x 19.9 cm (11 9/16 x 7 13/16 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Whitehill Art Purchase Endowment Fund 2002.8
Charlotte Salomon's main achievement was a group of almost 800 small gouache paintings on paper entitled Life? or Theater? (Leben? oder Theater?), which forms a single narrative conceived as an illustrated book. The series tells the story of the artist's life through thinly disguised characters meant to represent her circle of friends and family. Important themes include the young artist's own struggle with her family's past and with her need to express herself artistically. Salomon was murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp when she was only 26 years old. Her parents found Life? or Theater? after her death when they visited the small French village where she had lived before her deportation by the Nazis. They eventually donated the entire series to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. This particular piece was probably one that Salomon either made for Life? or Theater? and later edited out, or is something she created as an alternate version of one of its scenes. It shows a dinner party with Salomon's stepmother, Paula Lindberg, at the head of the table before a group of guests. Salomon greatly admired her stepmother and represented her in Life? or Theater? through a character named Paulinka Bimbam.
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