Nice to Pay Tribute to the Amazing Work of Charlotte Salomon

Dernier article en date pour Riviera Buzz sur l’incroyable exposition des œuvres de Charlotte Salomon en février prochain à Nice. Latest article to date for Riviera Buzz about the the incredible exhibit of Charlotte Salomon’s work this coming February in Nice.

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All throughout 2016, the city of Nice will commemorate the dark years of World War II (1940-1944) with a wide and varied programme.

Included in the commemorations are ceremonies, tributes, meetings with personalities such as Serge Klarsfeld, as well as an incredible exhibit of no less than 300 pieces from Charlotte Salomon’s compelling artwork, Life? Or Theater? An Operetta. This will be a unique occasion to discover, or rediscover, the tragic tale of this young German artist who created her masterpiece right here on the French Riviera, while living as a refugee from Nazism.

Structured like a play and comprised of various scenes, dialogues and musical references, this massive work is a testament to Salomon’s unique artistic vision but also to her life, which started on the 16th of April, 1917 in Berlin. Born to Albert Salomon, a surgeon, and Fränze Grunwald, she was, despite her dad’s reluctance, named after her deceased aunt. When she was only nine, Charlotte’s mother committed suicide but in order to protect her from her maternal family’s terrible secret, the little girl was told she had died of influenza.

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After the Nazis came to power in 1933, the young Charlotte had to drop out from school. She still managed however to get admitted to the prestigious State Art Academy in Berlin a few years later, which only allowed 1.5% of Jews. This is during that time that she met and fell in love with Alfred Wolfson, a Jewish musician twice her age, who became the first person to believe in her. But then came Kristallnacht in 1938 and Charlotte was sent to live with her maternal grandparents who had found refuge in l’Ermitage, a beautiful villa located in Villefranche, at the invitation of Ottilie Moore, a wealthy American of German origin.

The reprieve did not last long. Soon after she arrived, her grandmother committed suicide in 1940 and Charlotte finally learned the awful truth that had long been kept from her, that is that eight other members of her family, including her mother and aunt, had taken their own lives. Terribly distraught and convinced she would be next, the young woman then decided to break the vicious circle and “to paint her life rather than to take it.” To do so, she moved to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat , and started working on her masterpiece in the gardens of the Hôtel Belle Aurore, overlooking the Mediterranean. In the space of two years, the young artist produced more than 1,370 notebook-size gouache paintings – only 795 were kept for the final version – with the bright colours used to recount her early life, darkening as the story moved along. To coordinate the various drawings, she included dialogues, at times witty, ironic or sad, to introduce the characters, scenes and situations, as well as some music, both classical (Schubert, Bizet…) and popular (famous German songs), anthems and even prayers. The project was finished in 1942 and if it may have been intended as a diary, the final result is first and foremost a spectacular and deeply moving piece of art.

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In one of the latest captions accompanying her paintings, Charlotte wrote “I will live my life for them all.” She unfortunately never had the time. In September 1943, the Italians, who until then had occupied the south of France, surrendered and the Germans moved into Nice. Soon thereafter, Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, a top aide to Adolf Eichmann, started organizing some of the war’s most violent raids and on September 24, 1943, Charlotte and her husband were arrested in Villefranche. Deported to Auschwitz, Charlotte who was four-month pregnant, was immediately sent to her death.

Her short legacy however did survive. Probably feeling she was in danger, Charlotte had indeed managed to entrust her work with her physician and friend, Dr. Moridis of Villefranche “Keep this safe. It is my whole life,” shortly after finishing it. Dedicated to Ottilie Moore, it was donated to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam by Charlotte’s father and stepmother after the war.

This museum is now lending all the pieces of art that will be on display from the 5th of February to the 24th of May at Musée Masséna. The vernissage will take place on the 4th of February at 7pm in the presence of Mayor Christian Estrosi and popular author David Foenkinos who recounted in 2014 the real life story of the painter in his book Charlotte.

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CONTACT DETAILS
Charlotte Salomon Vie ? ou Théâtre ?
Musée Masséna
65, rue de France
06200 Nice

Open every day except Tuesday from 10 am to 9 pm

 

Lead image “Charlotte Salomon painting in the garden about 1939” by UnknownMuseum page. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons; “Charlotte Salomon – JHM 4762 -Kristallnacht” by Charlotte SalomonMuseum page. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons; “Charlotte Salomon – JHM 4351” by Charlotte SalomonMuseum page. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons; photo of Musée Masséna courtesy Ville de Nice

 

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IT’S ALWAYS CHRISTMAS IN DRØBAK!

Souvenirs d’un week-end de Noël à Oslo pour Riviera Buzz! Souvenirs from a Christmas weekend in Oslo for Riviera Buzz!

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Christmas is just days away and if you are worried with all that’s going on in the world right now, that the presents will not arrive on time, fear not!

Santa’s helpers in Drøbak, Norway, are hard at work! Indeed, if the Finns are convinced that Santa Claus resides in their country, just north of Rovaniemi, the Norwegians believe that he lives just a 30-minute drive from Oslo, in an idyllic little fishing village located on the fjord. When visitors arrive in Drøbak, they are welcomed by a warning sign that says “Watch out for Nisse”.

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The village is mostly famous for its Tregarden Julehus ( the « Wooden Christmas House ») which celebrates Santa Claus all year round and sells all kinds of Christmas articles such as ornaments, candles and napkins. Each year it draws some 250,000 visitors, including some world dignitaries who have been so impressed by what they have seen that they have invited the owners of the shop to come to visit their countries and spread the Christmas cheers. One of them is Prince Albert who can been seen on some of the pictures displayed at the entrance.

The store is a cute three-story structure, which opens on a little square and is surrounded by clapboard 18th century houses as well as the Christmas house official post office where you can get your letters and cards stamped with the official Christmas postmark. Meanwhile, not too far away, the Drøbak Tourist Information Centre has a permanent exhibition of more than 250,000 letters sent to “Julenissen” from all over the world.

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Julenissen is the name given to Santa Claus by the Norwegians and is an elf-like gnome who lives in the woods. And because he is the guardian of the welfare of all families, children leave a bowl of porridge for him during the holiday season to thank him for his blessings.

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ENJOY LA VIE EN ROSE IN TOULOUSE

Souvenirs de Toulouse pour Riviera Buzz! Souvenirs from Toulouse for Riviera Buzz!

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Few cities can boast such a rich historical past combined with cutting-edge modernity, vibrant nightlife and laidback atmosphere as Toulouse.

France’s fourth largest city, the « ville rose » as Toulouse is lovingly called thanks to its red brick facades which turn pink in the evening, is truly a city that seduces visitors and wins their hearts.

Situated close to the Pyrenees and built on the banks of the Garonne, Toulouse has an outstanding history, which is exemplified by many interesting buildings from the Saint-Sernin basilica, a masterpiece of Roman art, to the impressive Capitole, the current city hall, with its 8 columns of pink marble and its Henry IV courtyard, and from the cloister of the Jacobins to the magnificent Hôtel d’Assezat, which hosts a wonderful permanent collection of paintings, bronzes and objects d’arts, and is just one of the city’s many private mansions.

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Walking through the myriad of narrow streets or along the quays and enjoying the views and the nice weather, it is difficult not to fall under the spell of the city.

Just a bit further away from the center, the Canal du Midi, which has been classified as a World Heritage Site and links the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, is a perfect place for a relaxing stroll while the lovely squares and numerous parks such as the Jardin Royal or the Jardin des Plantes provide for a welcome green respite.

Proud of its Spanish influences, Toulouse has also cultivated its own Occitan identity; the street names are written in French and Spanish, and the local accent has a definite twang!

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This fascinating heritage however doesn’t stop the city from looking to the future. Toulouse is not only home toAirbus, but also to hordes of hi-tech companies such as Galileo, the global positioning site, making it the European capital of aeronautics. A Cité de l’Espace theme park has even been developed on 5 hectares to entertain visitors with space-related attractions.

But maybe what makes Toulouse so special in the eyes of so many people is not its rich history and pretty landscape but simply its undeniable “joie de vivre”. Its inhabitants, who count among their number a vibrant student population, definitely know how to appreciate life.

Maybe the best way to experience the city is to just sit and relax at a café with a glass of local wine, or try a cassoulet, a prime example of rustic Southern French cuisine, or watch the famed local rugby team, Stade Toulousain, in action.

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PARIS IS A MOVEABLE FEAST, OR WHEN A BOOK BECOMES AN ACT OF RESISTANCE

Suite aux terribles attaques survenues à Paris mi-novembre, les Parisiens cherchent confort dans la littérature, et dans un livre en particulier. Following the horrific attacks in Paris in mid-November, Parisians are seeking comfort in literature, and in one book in particular.

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Shortly after the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket, people all around France flocked to bookstores to purchase a copy of Voltaire’s ‘Treatise on Tolerance’ as a mark of resistance against barbarity. This time following the horrendous shootings that left 130 people dead and wounded more than 350 other on Friday 13th November, French citizens are once again turning to literature for comfort, rushing to buy Hemingway’s masterpiece ‘A Moveable Feast’.

In his Paris memoir, published posthumously in 1964 and titled in French « Paris est une fête » (Paris is a party), the famed American author recounts his bohemian adventures in the French capital as a member of the Lost Generation in the 1920’s.

This surge in popularity can be explained in part by the fact that #Parisestunefete has recently become a patriotic hastag on social media, but most of all by the interview given by a woman known only as “Danielle” to French TV station BFM TV, in which she urged her fellow citizens to bring flowers to commemorate the dead and to read Hemingway’s tribute to Paris because “we are a very ancient civilization, and we will hold high the banner of our values, and we will show brotherhood to the five million Muslims who exercise their religion freely and kindly, and we will fight against the 10,000 barbarians who kill, they say, in the name of Allah.”

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As a consequence, while the book has shot to the top of the literary charts, copies have also been placed along with flowers and candles on the sites of the massacres to show that no matter what, Paris will remain one of world’s capitals of culture.

And if ‘A Moveable Feast‘ is far from being misty-eyed about Paris, it remains a beautiful celebration of the city, described as an exciting place with a festive way of life. After all, as Hemingway himself wrote in the opening lines: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

 

Lead image © lazyllama