Staging Subjectivity: Love and Loneliness in the Scene of Painting with Charlotte Salomon and Edvard Munch

  • Griselda Pollock University of Leeds
Keywords: Edvard Munch, Charlotte Salomon, subjectivity, painting, loneliness, Friedrich Nietzsche


This paper proposes a conversation between Charlotte Salomon (1917–43) and Edvard Munch that is premised on a reading of Charlotte Salomon’s monumental project of 784 paintings forming a single work Leben? oder Theater? (1941–42) as itself a reading of potentialities for painting, as a staging of subjectivity in the work of Edvard Munch, notably in his assembling paintings to form the Frieze of Life. Drawing on both Mieke Bal’s critical concept of “preposterous history” and my own project of “the virtual feminist museum” as a framework for tracing resonances that are never influences or descent in conventional art historical terms, this paper traces creative links between the serial paintings of these two artists across the shared thematic of loneliness and psychological extremity mediated by the legacy of Friedrich Nietzsche.


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Author Biography

Griselda Pollock, University of Leeds

Griselda Pollock is Professor of Social and Critical Histories of Art and Director of the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History (CentreCATH) at the University of Leeds. She is committed to developing an international, postcolonial, queer feminist analysis of the visual arts and cultures. Her recent writings include Differencing the Canon: Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art’s Histories (Routledge, 1999); After-affects / After-images: Trauma and Aesthetic Transformation (Manchester UP, 2013); Bracha Ettinger: Art as Compassion (with Catherine de Zegher; ASP, 2011); Concentrationary Memories: Totalitarian Terror and Cultural Resistance (with Max Silverman; I. B. Tauris, 2013); Art in the Time-Space of Memory and Migration (Freud Museum and Wild Pansy P, 2013), and Visual Politics of Psychoanalysis: Art and the Image in Post-traumatic Cultures (I. B. Tauris, 2013). Her forthcoming books include The Nameless Artist in the Theatre of Memory: Charlotte Salomon’s “Life? or Theatre?” (Yale, 2017) and The Memory Politics of Feminism (Verso, 2018).


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How to Cite
Pollock, G. (2017). Staging Subjectivity: Love and Loneliness in the Scene of Painting with Charlotte Salomon and Edvard Munch. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (7), 114-144.