Charlotte Salomon's Life? or Theater? is a complex compilation of painting, musical notations, autobiography, cinematic layouts, and literary text. Salomon scholars have neglected a crucial element of Life? or Theater?, which is the significant influence of Salomon's friend, Alfred Wolfsohn. This thesis fills this void by examining the correlation between stylistic influences in Salomon's work and by exploring Wolfsohn's theoretical practices. Using a framework informed by Jungian psychology and Wolfsohn's extensive music theory, this thesis argues that Salomon portrayed her own story via Wolfsohn's philosophy of catharsis. As trauma became a reoccurring theme in Salomon's life, painting and creation became her purification and the means by which she recovered her own sanity. To expound the importance of Salomon's emotional expulsion in Life? or Theater?, this thesis considers her biography, traumatic life events, and her formal art training at the Vereinigte Staatsschulen für Freie und Angewandte Kunst. The combination of her chaotic life events, her training as a visual artist, and her inclusion of musical and theatrical elements emphasize her ability to efficiently call upon the most effective and expressive artistic style for her catharsis. In its synthesis, Salomon's Life? or Theater? becomes a Gesamtkunstwerk that is the pinnacle of German Expressionism. Lastly, this thesis will look to the relationship and influence of Wolfsohn. Arguing that Wolfsohn's influence was more than encouraging Salomon to paint, this thesis will draw connections between Wolfsohn's theories and Salomon's approach to Life? or Theater?. In arguing for the importance of Wolfsohn's theories, and by understanding her work as catharsis via Gesamtkunstwerk, this thesis has contributed new ways of understanding Salomon's complex work, Life? or Theater?, as more than an illustrated autobiography.
College and Department
Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Vaieland, Natalie Marie, "Shadow, Gender, Transference: Alfred Wolfsohn in Charlotte Salomon's Life? or Theater?" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 6433.
Charlotte Salomon, Alfred Wolfsohn, Life or Theater?, Gesamtkunstwerk, German Expressionism, Vereinigte Staatsschulen für Freie und Angewandte Kunst