Mosaic or Journal Memoir Charlotte Solomon, MairaKalman, Toc Fetch
Charlotte Solomon • Charlotte Salomon (April 16, 1917 - October 10, 1943) was a German-Jewish artist born in Berlin. She is primarily remembered as the creator of an autobiographical series of paintings Leben? oder Theater?: Ein Singspiel (Life? or Theatre?: A Song-play) consisting of 769 individual works painted between 1941 and 1943 in the south of France, while Salomon was in hiding from the Nazis. In October 1943 she was captured and deported to Auschwitz, where she and her unborn child were gassed to death soon after her arrival.
Charlotte Salomon came from a prosperous Berlin family. Her father, Albert Salomon was a surgeon;her mother, sensitive and troubled, committed suicide when Charlotte was nine. (This fact was concealed from her until she was twenty-two.) Charlotte was sixteen when the Nazis came to power in 1933. She simply refused to go to school, and stayed at home. Extraordinarily, at a time when German universities were restricting their Jewish student quota to 1.5% of the student body, Charlotte Salomon succeeded in gaining admission to the Berlin Academy of Fine Art in 1936. She studied painting there for two years, even winning a prize on one occasion until it was withdrawn “on racial grounds.”.
Life? Or Theater? • Charlotte Salomon was driven by “the question: whether to take her own life or undertake something wildly unusual.” In the space of two years, she painted over a thousand gouaches, working with feverish intensity. She edited the paintings, re-arranged them, and added texts, captions, and overlays. She had a habit of humming songs to herself while painting.The entire work was a slightly fantastic autobiography preserving the main events of her life – her mother’s death, studying art in the shadow of the Third Reich, her relationship with her grandparents – but altering the names and employing a strong element of fantasy. Charlotte also added notes about appropriate music to increase the dramatic effect, and she called Life? or Theatre? a ‘Singespiel’ or lyrical drama.
This series of gouaches is an extraordinary and unique document. In great detail it tells the story of Salomon's family and friends, her own internal life, the political background, and her obsessive love affair (with her voice teacher). Salomon had artistic training and her household was highly cultured. The way she tells her story is full of tragedy, but the telling also reveals Salomon's sly humor and wit. The series starts out with highly detailed and multi-layered images of the life and relationship between her mother and father. As the story unfolds the style gets broader and more expressionistic. The last chapters are almost violent in their expression, as if Salomon is aware of her impending fate and can hardly wait to write and paint the details of her story as the Gestapo close in on her life.
MairaKalman • MairaKalman, born in 1949, is an American illustrator, author, artist, and designer. Born in Tel Aviv, Kalman came to New York City with her family at age 4. She attended the High School of Music and Art, now LaGuardia High School. Ms. Kalman has authored a series of children's books about Max Stravinsky, the poet-dog. She has done a number of The New Yorker covers, including an iconic one together with Rick Meyerowitz called New Yorkistan. Kalman is also known for her illustrations for the 2005 edition of the popular guide to writing style, The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White.
MairaKalman was married to the designer Tibor Kalman until his death in 1999. Together, the two ran the design company M&Co. The company remains successful today. Ms. Kalman wrote the monthly illustrated blog The Principles of Uncertainty for The New York Times for one year, ending in April 2007. The blog was published in a book of the same title, which was released in 2007 to critical acclaim. Kalman started a new illustrated blog in the New York Times called And the Pursuit of Happiness about American democracy on January 30, 2009. The first entry chronicled her visit to Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Kalman's work is also featured on Rosenbach Museum and Library's 21st Century Abe project. Kalman is represented by the Julie Saul Gallery in New York City.