Jeanne Mammen

Grace and guts

Grace and guts: that was how Kurt Tucholsky described Jeanne Mammen’s figures in 1929. Her urban milieus teeming with divas, vamps and cheeky hussies were all the rage in the illustrated and satirical magazines of the 1920s. The readers were above all trendy young women who worked in the big city offices. The cosmetics and fashion industries were booming, while advertising and mass media promoted the image of the New Woman. The press had a special penchant for athletic and ladylike types. Jeanne Mammen created one for the cover page of “Schöne Frau” in 1926: the face, cropped by side strips, appears very narrow, an impression reinforced by the long neck. A black forehead curl sets up a contrast to the pale face with its blue eyes darkly lined, slightly curving brows, beauty spot, discreet rouge to match the pink of the stripes and perfect lipstick. The lady wears drop earrings to match her eyes. This is the cool elegance of art déco.

Jeanne Mammen (1890-1976) is one of the most complex and colourful figures in recent art history, a sharp observer who portrayed glamorous contemporaries, giddy night life and figures on the margins of society: distinctive icons of the “Golden Twenties”. After 1945 her work became abstract. The retrospective shows 170 works from a career lasting over 60 years.

Jeanne Mammen, Ohne Titel (Die schöne Frau), 1926, (Titelblatt Zeitschrift), © Sammlung Wolfgang Knapp - Büro für Kulturwissenschaft, Mannheim © VG BILD-KUNST Bonn, 2017

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