German Expressionism

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Jeanne Mammen

German, 1890–1976

Starr Figura, German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 2011

Watercolorist, painter, printmaker. Raised in Paris. Studied art in Paris, Brussels, and Rome from 1906 until 1911. As a German citizen, was forced to flee France with her family at outbreak of World War I; lost all possessions. Impoverished, settled in Berlin in 1916, where she eventually earned a living making illustrations for fashion magazines and posters for Universum-Film AG (UFA), the film distributor.

After 1924 frequently published drawings and watercolors in major satirical periodicals such as Ulk and Simplicissimus, for which she chronicled the experiences of Berlin's crop-haired, self-reliant "new women" at work and leisure — experiences that mirrored her own. Often showed them in cramped, distorted spaces, some rendered in lurid tones reminiscent of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and others in brilliant, orphic colors of the prewar Parisian avant-garde. Enjoyed growing commercial and critical success; in 1930 had first solo exhibition at Galerie Gurlitt in Berlin. At publisher Wolfgang Gurlitt's behest, made lithographs illustrating a book of erotic Sapphic poetry, Les Chansons de Bilitis, in 1931–32, which was banned by the Nazis.

Under Nazi dictatorship, remained in Germany but lived in a state of "inner emigration"; refused to exhibit or publish. Turned increasingly to painting in Cubist and Expressionist styles out of solidarity with artists who Nazis defamed as degenerate.

Selected Bibliography

Lütgens, Annelie. "Jeanne Mammen." In Three Berlin Artists of the Weimar Era: Hannah Höch, Käthe Kollwitz, Jeanne Mammen, edited by Louise R. Noun, pp. 93–102. Exh. cat. Des Moines, IA: Des Moines Art Center, 1994.

Lütgens, Annelie. "The Conspiracy of Women: Images of City Life in the Work of Jeanne Mammen." In Women in the Metropolis: Gender and Modernity in Weimar Culture, edited by Katharina von Ankum, pp. 89–105. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Merkert, Jörn, ed. Jeanne Mammen, 1890–1976: Monographie und Werkverzeichnis. Cologne: Wienand, 1997.

Sykora, Katharina. "Jeanne Mammen." Woman's Art Journal 9, no. 2 (Autumn/Winter 1988–89): 28–31.

Heather Hess

Works by Jeanne Mammen

  • Jeanne Mammen. Carnival in Berlin N III (Fasching Berlin N III). (c. 1930)
    Jeanne Mammen
    Carnival in Berlin N III (Fasching Berlin N III)
    (c. 1930)
    Jeanne Mammen. Carnival in Berlin N III (Fasching Berlin N III). (c. 1930)
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