Artists & Designers

Jeanne Mammen (German, 1890–1976)

Born Gertrud Johanna Louise Mammen in Berlin in 1890, Jeanne, as she was called, was raised and educated in Paris. From 1906 until 1911, she studied art at the Académie Julian (a private art school) in Paris and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, as well as in Rome. Shortly after returning to Paris, Mammen was forced to flee the city after her family lost their home and all of their belongings during World War I. Destitute, Mammen returned on her own to Berlin in 1916, eventually managing to support herself as a commercial artist illustrating major periodicals, fashion magazines, and posters for Universum-Film AG (UFA), the film distributor. At the height of her career, in the Weimar years of the 1920s and 30s, Mammen became well known for her graphic art. Sketchbook always in hand, she depicted urban life in cafes, bars, and streets with a penchant for chronicling Berlin’s "New Woman," the modern, independent women who worked and played in the city. Although satirical and stylistically associated with the New Objectivity, Mammen’s depictions of Berlin’s denizens are marked by a sense of empathy and connection with her subjects.

By the early 1930s, Mammen was enjoying commercial and critical success, and her first solo exhibition at the Galerie Gurlitt in 1930 was well received. In 1933, however, the Nazis banned her illustrations from publication and deemed her art degenerate. Desperate for income, she started selling second-hand books and journals, which she would do until the end of the war in 1945. During these tumultuous years, her style shifted to Cubist and Expressionist abstraction in a rebellious response to Nazi control. She also created art from city rubble and old materials, displaying the devastating destruction of Berlin. After joining artistic circles for a brief period after the war, Mammen became a recluse. She continued to draw until her death in 1976.

Excerpt from

Kelsey Martin and Nicole Myers, DMA exhibition text Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism, 2018.

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