Jeanne Mammen

Short Surface Report

Discretion in her own affairs was one of Jeanne Mammen’s cardinal principles. Self-portraits are few and far between, and she produced no written résumé of her life. Not until 1974 could she be coaxed into a few personal jottings entitled “Short Surface Report”.

In 1947, for her first solo exhibition since the Second World War, she submitted no biography, but drew a feeble line in the Galerie Rosen almanac and wrote underneath: “This is the course of my life – it began some time and hasn’t stopped yet.” Next to the line with its lackadaisical caption, Mammen sketches herself from the rear, dancing with a mirror in her raised hands. All we can see in it is a pair of eyes. The viewer must rest content with a glimpse of her reflection. We do not see her, but she sees us. And so this drawing formulates Mammen’s creed. She never wished “to be anything but a pair of eyes, to pass through the world unseen, only seeing others.”

Read more stories about Jeanne Mammen here.

 

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