Jeanne Mammen / Self Portrait
The artist Jeanne Mammen (1890-1976) gained a reputation beyond Berlin as a chronicler of life in the city during the 1920s. Her watercolors and drawings made a distinctive contribution to urban art in that glittering decade with its forceful social contrasts. But Jeanne Mammen left far more to posterity than this: her œuvre of seventy years, paintings and drawings with discontinuities that graphically express the political and artistic upheavals of the 20th century.
In 1997, the Berlinische Galerie mounted its first major exhibition dedicated to this artist. The venue was the Martin Gropius Bau, and the focus was on the 1920s. The current retrospective highlights the painter Jeanne Mammen and revisits her overall output. It presents oils and watercolors from the late 1920s, major works of Cubo-Futurism painted during the Nazi years, and notably the years after 1960. Drawings, illustrations, fashion and stage designs complement the paintings. The aim is to convey the dialectical interplay between the life and the work of an artist who cannot be pinned down to any particular style, be it Expressionism, Cubism or New Objectivity. This is the first exhibition to demonstrate how her early exposure to 19th-century French art and literature remained an influence in Mammen’s work until the end.
Jeanne Mammen’s œuvre, with all its fierce fault lines, is a significant reflection of political and aesthetic upheavals in the last century. Art scholars have long valued Mammen as a distinctive figure in the art of the Weimar Republic and the post-war years, rare far beyond the confines of Berlin and Germany. Not easily reduced to a common denominator, her work is still little known among the broader public. Her own withdrawn nature, combined with a lack of diaries, copious correspondence or life companions, has hampered access. Berlin’s museum of modern art, photography and architecture is seeking to change that. The show includes 170 works from over 60 years of output. At its core are some 50 paintings – alongside watercolors, drawings, illustrations, caricatures, cinema posters and sculptures. The exhibition, framed by photographs, magazines, films, letters and books, is conceived and curated by Mammen expert Dr Annelie Lütgens, who heads the Collection of Prints and Drawings at the Berlinische Galerie.
The exhibition was under the patronage of Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin.