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Germany • 1890−1976
Zhanna Mammen (November 21, 1890, Berlin - April 22, 1976, Berlin) - German artist, graphic artist, sculptor.

Features of the artist Jeanne Mammen: The main themes of Jeanne Mammen's creative work were social types of Berlin society, as well as the symbolist world of dreams and illusions. She is often called an artist, depicting in her paintings all the many facets of the decadent life of Berlin in the 1920s, although Jeanne herself was against such a narrow temporary view of her work.

Famous paintings by artist Jeanne Mammen: "Two dancing girls", “Ostend on the beach”, "Girl with a cat".

Zhanna Mammen was born in Berlin in 1890 in the family of a wealthy merchant Gustav Oscar Mammen. Five years later, the family moves to Paris. Little Zhanna grows up in the midst of French culture and language, admires Victor Hugo and Gustave Flaubert, adores symbolist artists. Carefree life, progressive upbringing, teaching painting at the Academy of Julian, and later at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, albums filled with sketches of street life in Paris, Berlin, Brussels ... bearing the imprint of the fantastic world of surrealism - saw the light around 1910.

The First World War destroyed the happy carelessness of a young artist: the Mammen family fled from France, their property was confiscated. In 1916, the Mammenes ended up in Berlin penniless; Jeanne and her sisters had to earn a living. Despite the turbulent events of the November Revolution of 1918-19 and the numerous speeches of artists advocating for new art for the new society, Zhanna is far from politics, the main thing is survival. In 1920, together with her sister Mimi, Zhanna moved to a one-room apartment on the 4th floor at 29 Kurfürstendamme, which will soon turn into a solitary abode of the artist and will remain so for many decades.

Jeanne Mammen's focus is on the social life of Berlin and its inhabitants, its light and dark sides. Cosmopolitanism has served the artist a good service: whether she moves in the circles of the elite or attends the bars of the proletarians, her works are confident, unobtrusive; Jeanne only captures what is happening, not taking sides. Her style, which grew out of the French and Belgian schools, bears the imprint of creativity Toulouse-Lautrec and seasoned with a sober Berlin view of life. Zhanna regularly draws spectacular advertising posters, collaborates with fashion houses, her illustrations are regularly printed in German satirical magazines. The artist is experimenting a lot, including with sculpture.

1933 year. Zhanna Mammen is left practically without a livelihood for the second time. She is forced to register with the labor exchange as an unemployed commercial artist. At the same time, her hatred of the Nazi regime pushes the artist to experiment with abstraction and to abandon realism, so beloved by the new government. In 1937, the artist visited the International Exhibition in Paris, where she was greatly impressed by the work Picasso "Guernica". True devotion to abstract art is complemented by works with elements of cubism, expressionism. It is impossible to show them to the public, but a passion for a dangerous experiment - contrary to what is happening in Berlin - is leading Jeanne forward.

Mammen didn’t want to leave the country, partly because of fear of going to the camp for German immigrants, partly because of the reluctance to start all over again in a foreign country. The life of an artist is very difficult; she works by candlelight, survives the bombing of Berlin. Jeanne is helped by friends, and sometimes she has to trade in old books for the sake of a piece of bread.

World War II came to an end. In one of the letters to his old friend, physicist Max Delbrück, who emigrated to the United States in advance, the artist writes: "... the ruins of Joan can be found in the ruins of Berlin ..." And this is clearly reflected in her works of that period, filled with a sense of melancholy . Mammen is experimenting again - this time with all sorts of "waste" of materials, using wire, rope and pieces of paper. Her works with elements of formal abstraction were presented at the first post-war exhibitions of contemporary art in Berlin, including the Gerd Rosen gallery. At the turn of 1949-50, Zhanna is actively working in the literary cabaret Die Badewanne (Bath), together with young artists and writers, including Alexander Camaro and Werner Heldt, and finally receives recognition in the circle of artists in Berlin. However, after 1950, she generally leaves the world of art - primarily because of the reluctance to take part in the constant ideological discussions that arise around contemporary art. Her life takes place in solitude, and in her work there is a tendency to visualize various objects. In her paintings - plants, animals, rocks of unusual shape, masks and dolls. The images resemble a mosaic or wall friezes made using colored candy foil. The second direction in which she works in the same period is the empty, monochrome world of silence. Symbolic works with geometric or biomorphic forms cause associations with rebuses.

In the period from 1960 to 1975, in the final segment of his artistic career, Mammen throws out his very personal stylistic pluralism. In her works there are no elements of the struggle with the surrounding world; one feels that the artist has time to deeply work through each picture.

The name Mammen stubbornly associated with the rise of her work in the 1920s, which always caused Jeanne hostility. In 1975, in her only interview, which Mammen gave to art historian Hans Kinkel, the artist emphasized: “You should always write that my works were created between 1890 and 1975 ... I always wanted to be just a pair of eyes that quietly walked around the world in order to observe others. " After her death, the artist’s friends founded the Zhanna Mammen Society. Thanks to their efforts, the studio of Jeanne on Kurfustendamm, 29, was turned into a small museum with a permanent exhibition of her works. On March 1, 1995, a memorial plaque was opened on the house where Mammen lived.

Numerous exhibitions and publications of the Society largely contributed to the fact that today Jeanne Mammen is known throughout the world as a talented and nontrivial Berlin artist.

Author: Rita Lozinskaya
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