Jeanne Mammen ( German, 1890 - 1976 )
- c. 1930
"I have often wanted to be just a pair of eyes, walking through the world unseen, only to be able to see others." —Jeanne Mammen Jeanne Mammen—one of the most important German artists of the Weimar era, the period between the World Wars—often found her subjects in the cafes, dance halls, and shops of Berlin. Concerned with the lives of city women, she strove to capture the wide variety of their experiences, portraying prostitutes, socialites, and lesbians with equal empathy. In Kaschemme, a pen lithograph, Mammen depicts revelers in the interior of a tumultuous cafe. The title is derived from a word in the Romani language (used by the Roma, or Gypsies) describing a disreputable or decadent restaurant, bar, or hotel. The faces of the bartender, musician, dancers, and drinkers have the quality of caricature, and the scene is marked by a straightforward honesty. Mammen was born in Berlin and grew up in Paris, where she began her artistic training. She continued her studies throughout Europe, but by 1912 she was back in the French capital and receiving considerable critical attention for her submissions to the salons. World War I forced her return to Germany, her family having lost their business and fortune as war restitution payment to the French. Settling in Berlin, she turned primarily to book illustration and printmaking as a means of earning a living. It was in this context that she began to develop a skill in capturing the social types and excitement of the city.