Jeanne Mammen's Different Style Periods
When referring to specific paintings please use the letters and numbers from the catalogue raisonné (Werkverzeichnis, WVZ) next to the titles, which have been translated into English.
I. PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS.
1. Sketchbooks and Drawings, ca. 1910 - 1914.
At an early age Jeanne Mammen had started to draw people and scenes which had captured her interest - especially during her travels - into small sketchbooks. After completion of her studies she developed the first distinct phase of her early art work. Vivid impressions in pencil, watercolour and mixed technique depict individuals in their environmental and social setting, or emphasize their characteristic features and gestures, as in "Aphrodite". Her skill in draftsmanship is quite evident in the "Bildnis der Schwester Marie Louise" [Portrait of her Sister Marie Louise] and other drawings done in pencil, ink or charcoal.
"Aphrodite", WVZ: SB IX/7.
"Bildnis der Schwester Marie Louise" [Portrait of her Sister Marie Louise], WVZ: Z 3.
2. Symbolistic Book Illustrations, ca. 1913 - 1916.
Jeanne Mammen's second phase of her early art work can be defined as her first style period. Literary sources such as the poetry of the "Fin de Siècle", particularly Flaubert's "Tentation de Saint Antoine" [The Temptation of St. Anthony], as well as E. T. A. Hoffmann's "Der Goldene Topf" [The Golden Pot] and "Die Elixiere des Teufels" [The Elixier of the Devil], served as inspiration for the visionary and decorative elements in her paintings of dream worlds, in the style of the Franco-Belgian Symbolism, basically characterized by morbidity and decadence.
"Tod" [Death] (intended as an illustration to "Tentation de Saint Antoine" [The Temptation of St. Anthony]), WVZ: A 13.
3. "Metropolis Berlin", Watercolours, ca. 1924 - 1934.
As of 1927 Jeanne Mammen's art work filled the front covers and pages of a multitude of journals, magazines and satirical reviews, such as "Jugend" [Youth], "Die Dame" [The Lady], "Die Schöne Frau" [The beautiful Woman], "Der Junggeselle" [The Bachelor], "Simplicissimus", "Uhu" [Owl] and "Ulk" [Fun]. She developed a reputation as an outstanding illustrator. Her empathetic and poignant pictorial statements of life in the metropolis Berlin, were ranked equal to those of contemporary male artists George Grosz, Rudolf Schlichter, Rudolf Wilke or Karl Arnold. Her watercolours and drawings dating from 1927 to 1933, represent a first highlight in her creative work (G. Reinhardt). The central motif during this period deals with gender roles, focusing on the amiguity of the female in her conflicting social roles.
"Die Rothaarige" [The Redhead], WVZ: A 278.
4. Realistic Paintings, prior to 1929 until ca. 1938.
In contrast to the bright watercolours, the paintings of the 1920s and 1930s are dominated by a melancholic character, which becomes even more pronounced during the time after 1933, when the Third Reich was in power, and Jeanne Mammen expressed her inner resistance and her social criticism also in her paintings. The portrayals of young people, staring into emptiness with a blank expression in their black eyes are representative of this style period, which is also referred to as "Black Eye Period".
"Zwei Kinder, lesend" [Two Children, reading], WVZ: G 49.
5. Cubist-expressionistic Period, ca. 1938 - 1945.
Jeanne Mammen gave up her realistic style of painting also out of protest against the concept of art imposed by the Nazi regime, and its political influence on the cultural environment. Instead she began to paint in a Cubist-expressionistic style, strongly influenced by Picasso. This allowed her to express social criticism in a more progressive way. "Der Würgeengel" [The Strangling Angel] and "Kind im Luftschutzkeller" [Child in the air-raid shelter] are representative of her painting during the resistance.
"Der Würgeengel" [The Strangling Angel], WVZ: G 91.
"Kind im Luftschutzkeller" [Child in the air-raid shelter], WVZ: G 96.
6. Sculpture Period, ca. 1945 - 1948.
During and after the last years of the war Jeanne Mammen had begun to model sculptures in plaster and clay, partly due to the shortage of painting materials. This also allowed her to continue with her art work by candlelight, not out of a romantic notion, but due to the frequent interruptions of power supply in the ruins of post-war Berlin, which made painting at that time almost impossible. Subsequently the paintings of this period show definite traces of having worked with this medium, and first signs of abstraction can be detected.
"Stürzende Fassaden" [Crashing Facades], WVZ: G 139.
7. Graphic Period, ca. 1949 - 1954.
This long period is marked by progressive abstraction. On formats of 100 x 70 cm, lineaments and vague graphic elements merely suggest figures. At first Jeanne Mammen painted them on monochrome, and later on a more colourful background, partly in an almost Pointillist style.
"Mädchen im Garten" [Girls in Garden], WVZ: G 178.
8. Lyrical-abstract Period, ca. 1950 - 1960.
After extensive experiments with contrast and intensity of colour, the paintings now are characterized by the colouration, which has developed a certain autonomy, until finally colours alone define the structure of the painting, and drawn elements can rarely be detected.
"Blumen in Vase mit Abziehbild" [Flowers in Vase with Decal], WVZ: G 204.
9. Absurd-abstract Period, ca. 1960 - 1965.
After having passed her 70th birthday, the artist seemed to have slipped into the role of an amused, yet contemplative spectator, observing the folly of life. Now ghostlike figures populate the canvas, celebrating grotesque romps through the never-ending carnival, which life appeared to have become to Jeanne Mammen by now.
"Der durchbohrte Mond" [The Pierced Moon], WVZ: G 268.
10. Coloured Paper Collages with Tinfoil, "Numinous" Paintings, ca. 1960 - 1975.
By using chocolate- and candy wrappers and other trite items, Jeanne Mammen emphasized the pretentiousness and triviality of all human endeavor. This detached ironic philosophy found its correspondence in her curious and at times premonitory glance into other realms, where ghostlike figures are the ones who pull the strings which make the marionettes dance.
Now the circle came to a close: the last phase of Jeanne Mammen's work connects with that of the symbolic mysticism and visionary character of the dream worlds of the first phase.
"Verheißung eines Winters" [Promise of Winter], WVZ: G 295.
The artist's graphic prints include some etchings dated prior to 1920, and a number of lithographs (stone print), probably dating from 1930, among them the series of eight illustrations in two colours for Pierre Louys's "Les Chanson de Bilitis" [The Songs of Bilitis] (1894), an homage on the theme of lesbian love. These lithographs, however, were banned from publication by the National Socialist regime.
"Eifersucht" [Jealousy] (intended as an illustration to "Les Chansons de Bilitis" [Songs of the Bilitis]), WVZ: D 20.
Towards the end of the war Jeanne Mammen had modeled heads and busts. A total of 22 plaster and clay sculptures were preserved, they have been cast into bronze by the "Jeanne-Mammen-Gesellschaft e. V." [Jeanne Mammen Society] (today: "Förderverein Jeanne-Mammen-Stiftung e. V." [Sponsoring Association Jeanne-Mammen-Foundation]).
"Afrikanischer Kriegerkopf" [African Warrior], WVZ: P 2.
The artist's studio (Wohnatelier), 1960.
Jeanne Mammen at work in her studio, 1946. She is wearing her fur coat, because of inadequate heating after the war. The painting on the wall is titled: "Mann mit Baskenmütze" [Man with Beret], WVZ: G 95.
Jeanne Mammen's œuvre is documented in the catalogue raisonné, which was published in 1997 (Wienand Verlag, Köln, 1997). It comprises 295 paintings, 569 watercolours, and other work done in colour on paper. In addition it includes sketchbooks dating from 1910 - 1914, 1919, 1926, 1932 and 1962 with a total of approximately 800 sketches in watercolour and pencil, as well as 1.274 separate drawings (1911 - 1970). To graphic reproduction some etchings dated prior to 1920, and at 1930 a number of lithographies (stone print).