Life? or Theatre?
"This is my whole life," Charlotte Salomon said when she gave her French doctor and friend the enormous suitcase containing her life's work for safe-keeping. Life? Or theatre? is the result of months of restless work in a small room in a hostel during which Charlotte Salomon appealed to everything inside her: her perfect visual memory, her insight into family and friends, her education at the Art Academy in Berlin and, most of all, the inspiration of her short but intense love for her stepmother's singing teacher. That is how Charlotte created this singular work of art, a graphic novel avant la lettre, consisting of 781 gouaches and hundreds of drawings-a mixture of paintings, texts, and musical annotations-which together tell the story of a family between the First World War and 1940. In more than one gouache, influences of George Grosz and Modigliani are recognizable, while others are foretastes of the contemporary graphic novel. The work shimmers with beauty and precision. This timeless masterpiece, now published for the first time in a complete edition including several recently discovered gouaches, is truly a unique work by an artist whose life inspired not only David Foenkinos's internationally bestselling novel Charlotte, but also a movie, a documentary, an opera and a ballet.