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 9. (This fact was concealed from her until she was 22.) Charlotte was 16 when the Nazis came to power in 1933. She simply refused to go to school, and stayed at home.
...Charlotte was sent to the South of France to live with her grandparents, already settled in Villefranche-sur-Mer near Nice. They lived in a cottage in the grounds of a luxurious villa L'Ermitage (now demolished) owned by a wealthy American, Ottilie Moore, who went on to shelter a number of Jewish children. Charlotte left L'Ermitage with her grandparents to live in an apartment in Nice, where her grandmother attempted to hang herself in the bathroom. Charlotte's grandfather then revealed the truth to Charlotte about her mother's suicide, as well as the suicides of her aunt Charlotte, her great grandmother, her great uncle, and her grandmother's nephew. Shortly after the outbreak of war in September 1939, Charlotte's grandmother succeeded in taking her own life....
"My life began when my grandmother decided to take hers, when I found out that my mother’s whole family did the same thing, when I found out that I am the only one surviving, and when I felt the same inclination deep inside of me, craving for despair and death," the artist wrote to her father about the events of that time. Then she took up her brush with the intention to realize an ambitious plan of creating an autobiographical novel in pictures.
Although it was the beginning of her life as a creator, she was not an amateur in art, and her seemingly naive creativity is based on a serious theoretical basis and remarkable talent, which was awarded even while studying at the School of Arts. There she was carried away by works of contemporary Expressionists. An utterance by her compatriot Emil Nolde sank into her mind, "I love those pictures that seem to have painted themselves."
Salomon is not the direct heiress of Nolde’s painting technique, as her own style is too original for this. However, a searching look can find some continuity in the manner of painting lines and colors.
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