JEANNE MAMMEN TIMELINE
1890 (November 21): Gertrude Johanna Luise Mammen (named Jeanne) was born in Berlin as the youngest daughter of the businessman Gustav Oskar Mammen and his wife Ernestine Caroline Josephine Elise, née Delhaes.
1900: The Mammen family moved to the upper-class suburb of Passy in Paris.
1907: After attending the Lycée Molière, Mammen, together with her sister Adeline Marie Louise (named Mimi), began studying Fine Arts at the internationally renowned private Académie Julian, founded by the painter Rodolphe Julian in 1868.
1908 (November): Jeanne Mammen and her sister moved to Brussels. They continued their formal art training at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Fernand Khnopff, Herman Richir and Jean Delville were among their academic teachers.
1911: After finishing their fine art studies in Paris and Brussels, Jeanne Mammen and her sister moved to Rome, where they attended the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma and the Scuola Libera del Nudo dell’Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma.
1912: Jeanne Mammen and her sister returned to Paris where they shared a studio. Soon they moved to Brussels and established a studio there. In Paris and Brussels Jeanne Mammen captured her keen observations of urban life in numerous sketchbooks (ca. 1910–1914). Her early body of work also includes the symbolist suite comprising ca. fifty gouaches and several etchings. The motifs reveal inspiration by her passion for French literature.
1914: At the outbreak of World War I the German Mammen family, now regarded as enemy aliens, had to flee France; the French Government seized their assets.
1915: The family arrived in Berlin; they lived together at Motzstraße.
1920: Jeanne Mammen and her sister moved into a studio apartment at Kurfürstendamm 29, in the rear building on the fourth floor, where Jeanne Mammen lived and worked until her death on April 22, 1976.
1922–1934: Jeanne Mammen gradually succeeded in establishing herself as a sought- after graphic artist supporting herself with commissioned artwork. She created numerous watercolors and drawings for various fashion magazines, such as Styl, Die Dame, Die Schöne Frau, as well as for cultural and satirical journals and magazines such as Jugend, Ulk, Der Junggeselle, Querschnitt and Simplicissimus. She became a chronicler not only of the “Golden Twenties” in Berlin but also of the dark sides of the Weimar Republic.
1926 (February 5): Jeanne Mammen left the Evangelical Church.
1930 (autumn): Wolfgang Gurlitt organized the first comprehensive solo exhibition for Jeanne Mammen at his father’s Galerie Gurlitt in Berlin. He commissioned the artist to create a series of colored lithographs in a modern style. They were to illustrate a bibliophile edition of Pierre Louÿs’s Les Chansons de Bilitis (1894), which he intended to publish.
1933: The National Socialist regime came into power, to which Jeanne Mammen was strongly opposed. Journals that she had worked for as a freelance artist were prohibited or brought to party line. She gave notice to Simplicissimus, the source of her main income, that she would no longer cooperate with them, and her professional career came to an abrupt end. In opposition to official cultural ideology, Jeanne abandoned her realistic style and developed a “cubo-expressionistic” style of painting.
1935: Maintaining close friendships with like-minded friends was vital for survival. Among them were the journalist Erich Kuby and the natural scientist Max Delbrück. A lifelong deep friendship developed between him and his later family.
1936–1938: Jeanne Mammen’s sister Mimi left to live in Tehran. At the Paris World Fair in 1937 Jeanne Mammen viewed Picasso’s painting Guernica. She admired his artwork for the rest of her life.
1938: Max Delbrück exhibited some of Jeanne Mammen’s early paintings he had taken with him from Berlin in his institute CALTECH in Pasadena, California.
1939–1945: Jeanne Mammen survived the war years in her studio apartment. During this period, she created a remarkable body of work (degenerate art) fortunately, she was able to keep it hidden until after the war. She also created clay and plaster sculptures. She started translating French texts by Picasso and immersed herself in translating Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations [Les Illuminations] (1886) and A season in Hell [Une saison en Enfer] (1873) into German. During the last years of the war, her studio apartment was partly destroyed by heavy bombings.
1945–1950: After the war, contact with Max Delbrück and her other Berlin friends now living in the U.S. and England, was reestablished. Her friends supported her by sending food, clothing and painting materials. Jeanne Mammen was one of the first modern artists in postwar Germany. Her artwork was exhibited in several shows in Berlin and Dresden. She belonged to the circle of avant-garde artists at the renowned Galerie Gerd Rosen in Berlin. From 1949–1950 she joined the artists’ cabaret Bathtub [Badewanne], for which she designed and crafted stage sets, costumes and decorations; during a Rimbaud evening her new translations of the Illuminations were part of the program. Jeanne Mammen did not participate in the political increasingly bitter ideological East-West controversies, which also involved contemporary art. The influential group of Berlin painters boycotted her artwork. She withdrew into her privacy, spent time with her friends, traveled and most of all concentrated on painting in her studio apartment.
1954: Galerie Bremer in Berlin organized her second solo exhibition after the war. She received enthusiastic reviews by the press. During the 1950’s and 1960’s her artwork developed from a graphic phase to lyrical abstraction.
1965–1975: In her late work, Jeanne Mammen embarked on an exploration of more abstract modes of representation; she created the so-called numinous paintings also integrating colored foil from candy wrappers. In some of these paintings, a connection to her early symbolist artwork can be observed. A painting entitled Kabbala (1960–1965) stands out among these late works.
1967: Jeanne Mammen’s translation of the prose poem Les Illuminations [Illuminationen] by Arthur Rimbaud, Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt/Main, was published.
1969: During a Morocco trip with Max Delbrück and his wife Manny, Jeanne Mammen became seriously ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized in Rabat-Salé. After her return to Berlin, she recovered and created several large format abstract paintings.
1971: An extensive solo-exhibition, organized by Hans Brockstedt, in his gallery in Hamburg, showed a large body of sketchbook sheets and watercolors created in Paris and Brussels before 1915, as well as watercolors and drawings from the 1920’s in Berlin. This successful exhibition traveled to other galleries in Germany.
1972–1975: During an encounter with the art critic and photographer Hans Kinkel, Jeanne Mammen, for the first time, showed him a portfolio with her early symbolist artwork, which she had preserved in her studio apartment.
1975: In October she completed her last painting, which was titled by friends Promise of a Winter [Verheißung eines Winters].
1976 (April 22): Mammen died in Berlin.
Jeanne Mammen (1890–1976) grew up in a cosmopolitan environment in Berlin and later in Paris. While pursuing her studies at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Mammen created her first extensive complex of works, which is predominantly informed by her teachers, the Belgian Symbolists Jean Delville (1867–1953) and Fernand Khnopff (1858–1921) among others, whose influence is quite evident throughout her early work (Reinhardt 2002:11). After fleeing Paris on the outbreak of the First World War, Mammen established herself in Berlin, the city of her birth, painting scenes depicting the Berlin subculture of brothels, dance revues and women’s clubs.
Despite the fact that her art turned to a more realistic direction, she kept exploring with subtle undertones of humor some major symbolist themes, such as traditional gender boundaries and same-sex relationships. Her early symbolist works evince an intense preoccupation with the themes of vision, meditation, eastern religions and other philosophies. Gustave Flaubert’s (1821–1880) The Temptation of Saint Anthony [La Tentation de Saint Antoine] (1874) was one of the works that marked her remarkably throughout her life. She was able to recite it “page by page by heart” even at the end of her life (Kinkel 2017:213, Hübner 2017:210).
It is important to note that Mammen’s symbolist works were not on display until the late 1970s. Apart from an illustration depicting St. Anthony and the Seven Deadly Sins (1908–1914) [image at right], which was shown in the context of the commemoration of Mammen’s eightieth birthday at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in December 1970, the remaining works were safely hidden by Mammen in her studio and became widely known around 1975, when art critic Hans Kinkel (1929–2015) visited her there (Lütgens 2017:223). Carolin Leistenschneider read the representations of asceticism in Mammen’s early drawings in the context of the anchoritic movement, according to which physical reality is neglected in favor of a spiritual one, whereas practices, such as sexual abstinence are associated with a self-knowledge process (Leistenschneider 2010). Indeed, Mammen had often expressed a feeling of isolation for the purpose of contemplation: “People disturb me! I resemble Flaubert a lot – to an almost indecent extent. I always said to myself: I want to have a monk’s cowl and rush with it into the theater” (Kinkel 2017:215).
Gertrud Johanna Louise Mammen (named Jeanne) was born in Berlin on November 21, 1890, as the youngest daughter of the affluent businessman Gustav Oskar Mammen (1859–1945) and his wife Ernestine Caroline Josephine Elise, née Delhaes (1859–1943). In 1900, Mammen’s father sold his factory in Berlin and moved his family to Paris, where he became partner in a glass blowing company. They settled down in a villa at rue Boulainvilliers, 37, in the high-class suburb of Passy (Stamm 2016:14, Kinkel 2017:213). After enrolling at the Lycée Molière, Mammen developed a great interest in art and literature. In 1906, Jeanne, together with her older sister Adeline Marie Louise (named Mimi, 1888–1956), attended the private Académie Julian, which was founded by the painter Rodolphe Julian (1839–1907) in 1868. The academy ran a so-called “lady’s studio,” a class especially for women, which was a remarkable venture at that time. In contrast to other academies, such as those in Berlin, Munich, Düsseldorf and Dresden, which did not officially admit women students until around 1919, or the Paris Académie des Beaux-Arts, which did not allow women until 1897, the Académie Julian offered women artists the chance to take the same courses as men did (Leistenschneider 2010:26; Reinhardt 2002:10–11). For example, the artists Marie Bashkirtseff (1858–1884), Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876–1907) and Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) had already taken lessons there. It was during her study at the Académie Julian that Mammen was exposed to the works of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859–1923), Jean-Louis Forain (1852–1931) and, above all, Edgar Degas (1834–1917), whose compositional principles, brilliant draftsmanship, as well as the treatment of his subjects, inspired her future artistic development (Stamm 2016:18; Reinhardt 2002:10–11).
Mammen’s approach to the portrayed persons remained quite critical and nonjudgmental, at least until she abandoned representational painting altogether. With her strict line she captured the mimicry and gestures of the figures, also portraying their economic and social background. This predilection for physiognomies and gestures can be attributed to an influential French tradition (FJMS 2005:18–19). Furthermore, her first encounter with French literature, which decisively shaped her values and predetermined her artistic ventures, took place during that early age. Among the writers she avidly read were Émile Zola (1840–1902), Alphonse Daudet (1840–1897) and especially Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880), whose The Temptation of Saint Anthony [La Tentation de saint Antoine] (1874) she held in great esteem (Reinhardt 1997:34; Reinhardt 2002:11). In her later years, Mammen reminisced that she felt so spellbound and intoxicated by the above book that she could recite entire pages by heart (Kinkel 2017:213; Hübner 2017:210). Mammen later recalled her childhood in Paris as a halcyon and carefree time.
In November 1908, Jeanne and Mimi enrolled at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and rented an apartment at the suburb of Ixelles, at Rue d’Edimbourg 34, in the vicinity of the Academy (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:181). One of her friends from the Academy was the painter Louis Buisseret (1888–1956). He was also Jean Delville’s student and, in 1928, one of the founding members of the artistic group Nervia, which promoted subjects from daily and family life, treated with idealism and with a visual language informed by Quattrocento painting (Reinhardt 1997:34; Reinhardt 2002:11, 34). Mammen later recalled about her studies at the academy:
things were getting serious […] We had anatomy, mythology, architecture, aesthetics and literature. We had to work terribly hard: from eight in the morning until ten at night. […] The Académie was a former cloister with large rooms and heavy iron stoves for the wintertime. One was on one’s feet all day long: painting in the morning, drawing in the evening, painting in the afternoon, and all these classes on top of it. There was also a splendid library where we were avid users (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:181, Kinkel:213).
According to the registers of the Academy, Mammen chose the courses “peinture après nature et composition” and “dessin figure antique” under the symbolist painters Fernand Khnopff and Jean Delville respectively (Reinhardt 2002:11). On July 31, 1909, in the subject of composition, Jeanne (only eighteen years old at that time) received a medal, a commendation which she was very proud of and for which she was awarded 150 francs (Reinhardt 2002:11–12). In Paris and Brussels, Jeanne Mammen captured her keen observations of urban life in numerous sketchbooks (ca. 1910–1914). However, her early body of work also includes the symbolist suite comprising ca. fifty gouaches, pencil and ink drawings, as well as several etchings. The motifs reveal inspiration by her passion for French literature. For the above reasons, one can discern two pillars in Jeanne Mammen’s early artwork: the realistic and the symbolist one.
The majority of Mammen’s symbolist works, which date back between 1908 and 1914 [image at right], must be examined in the context of the Theosophical effervescence in fin-de-siècle Brussels, of which Delville was a formative actor. Having emerged from the towering shadow of Paris long since the end of the nineteenth century, the Belgian metropolis turned out to be the cradle of European symbolist movements. The reasons for Mammen’s moving to Brussels are not very much clear and only presumptions can be made. The art historian Annelie Lütgens contends that Mammen’s choice was made when the era Julian came to an end with his demise in 1907 and the Academy was operated by his wife (Lütgens 1991:13). Besides, Lütgens continues, Brussels appeared to Mammen as the “El Dorado” of painting and she perhaps felt attracted precisely by the burgeoning supremacy of Symbolism in that city (Lütgens 1991:13–14; Reinhardt 2002:10–11).
However, one could furthermore surmise that this particular attraction may also have been due to Delville’s presence at the Académie Royale. Delville was a very influential Belgian symbolist painter, who, after having received his diploma from the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, experimented with many artistic styles, such as realism and neoimpressionism, before immersing himself in an elaborately decadent imagery, primarily formed by his profound and extensive acquaintance with esoteric and occult sources (Cole 2015; Introvigne 2014). In fact, Delville dabbled in multifarious fields of alternative religious studies (be that Rosicrucianism, Martinism, Freemasonry or Theosophy) while he would eventually develop an increasing enthusiasm for Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895–1986), who was regarded as and, in fact, groomed to be the new World Teacher (Introvigne 2014). Delville as well as Khnopff had both exhibited at Joséphin Péladan’s (1858–1918) Rosicrucian Salons, the former for the first four consecutive years of their existence (1892–1895), the latter for the first three (1892–1894) (Pincus-Witten 1976:218–220).
Belgium’s very rich esoteric subculture was indeed well represented at the Rose+Croix Exhibitions in Paris, where artists such as Xavier Mellery (1845–1921), Émile Bartelemy Fabry (1865–1966), Henri Ottevaere (1870–1944) and Joseph Middeleer (1865–1934) exhibited their works (Pincus-Witten 1976:46; Draguet 2010:258–301). After the demise of the Rosicrucian Salons in 1897, Delville followed Péladan’s suit and organized in Brussels, not without causing the latter’s irritation, the Salons d’Art Idéaliste (1896–1898), whose program imitated in many ways that of Péladan’s (Pincus-Witten 1976:196–97).
In 1907, one year before Jeanne Mammen and her sister moved to Brussels, Delville had secured a teaching place at the Academy, after returning from the Glasgow School of Art, where he had been holding a tenure. Many of his British students even followed him to Brussels to improve their training under his tutelage in his private studio in rue Morris (Delville Miriam, 2014:26). As one of Delville’s students, the Belgian painter, engraver and pioneer of abstract art, Jean-Jacques Gailliard (1890-1976), has pointed out in his recollections of those years, that Delville became so influential and inspiring to his students as to convince them to pore over occult theories and teachings. His sway over them was so strong, and therefore they would follow him like blind disciples, “applying to the letter his modes of understanding and viewing” (Clerbois 2013:94). Furthermore, Gailliard continues, “unaware as they were of philosophy, metaphysics and theology, it became impossible for them to criticize and follow Delville in his nebulous principles” (Clerbois 2013:94). In this context, the extent of Delville’s influence on the Mammen sisters remains to be explored.
The year 1908 is also important for another reason. In early September, the Russian composer and pianist Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915) settled himself in Brussels, at Rue de la Reforme 45 (Kelkel 1999:149), not far away from the Mammen sisters’ apartment. Scriabin’s sojourn in Brussels marked the beginning of a blossoming international career, abetted among other reasons, by the fact that esoteric ideas provided him with a fertile soil for his philosophical seeds, which eventually sprouted up and induced the reconfiguration of traditional tonal harmony as well as the reassessment of established values that are linked with it. Through his travels in Central Europe, Scriabin became involved within a circle of friends drawn together by their shared interest in Theosophy. Among them the French sculptor and graduate of the Académie Julian in Paris, Auguste de Niederhäusern (1863–1913), named Rodo after the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917). Rodo introduced Scriabin to Helena Blavatsky (1831–1891) and, in general, to Theosophy in 1906 (Lapaire 2001: 66).
In 1908, the Russian sculptor Serafim Soudbinin (1867–1944), who had taken a mold of the composer’s head, from which a mask and a bust were made, contributed to Scriabin’s networking within the Theosophical milieu. Kelkel states that Soudbinin was the one that introduced Scriabin to Delville in Brussels (Kelkel 1999:151). Scriabin and Delville were adherent of the “White Lodge” of the Theosophical Society, where Delville was very influential in forming the aesthetic tastes and proclivities of its members (Introvigne 2014:101; Kelkel 1999:151–66). The two men discussed their shared interests and projects in their favorite café, near Grand-Place. Forthwith, Scriabin became a habitué in Delville’s house, where the composer revered Delville’s painting Prometheus (1907), in which the Titan is depicted according to the Theosophical doctrine as the light-bearer of intelligence and consciousness to men (Delville, Olivier 1984:24–26).
After Delville’s prompting, Scriabin further researched on synesthetic art and color-music, especially on the clavecin oculaire, the earliest color organ, which was designed by the Jesuit mathematician Louis Bertrand Castel (1688–1757), whose publications and notes on the subject were then preserved at the Bibliothèque royale in Brussels (Kelkel 1999:164–65; Draguet 2010:301). The product of this quest was the symphonic work Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (Op. 60, 1910) that features a part for a tastiera per luce (marked in the score as luce – light), a kind of color organ. It was also Delville, who painted the frontispiece for the first published edition of Prometheus, whose premiere took place in Moscow in 1911. Not until March 1915, at Carnegie Hall in New York, was the color organ included in the performance (Baker 2002). Apart from the cover design created for Prometheus, Delville was also planning a larger project, in the form of a Gesamtkunstwerk, where also other artists, among them the Lithuanian painter Mihalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911) and Seraphim Soudbinin were invited to cooperate in exploring the figure of Prometheus, as it had been interpreted by Blavatsky (Petritakis 2018; Introvigne 2014:101; Jumeau-Lafond 1996:31–34). Jeanne’s sister, Mimi, who under the pseudonym L. Folcardy created a series of symbolist works might have also been aware of Delville’s and Scriabin’s spiritual quests. In her illustration of Prometheus, the great emancipator of mankind is depicted, as in Delville’s titular painting, holding with both hands a five-pointed star, the emblem of the “White Lodge” of the Theosophical Society, but also a hermetic symbol related to the Emerald Tablet (Kelkel 1999:166) [image at right].
Jeanne Mammen’s Sphinx and Chimera, of which two versions exist, equally owes much to Delville’s narrative technique and linear style, such as that employed in his painting Satan’s Pleasures (1895). Mammen’s drawing depicts the chimera, a fire spitting monster, galloping “in the corridors of the Labyrinth,” dashing madly about the sphinx (a male creature according to Flaubert), which, while remaining stolid and motionless, does not reveal its secret [image at right] (Flaubert 1910:243–47). The two creatures stand here as abstractions for idea and matter, the first expressing the realm of man’s aspirations and imagination, the second the substance of knowledge that remains forever beyond man’s reach. However, both creatures suffer from their inability to mate (“the Sphinx from the aridity of its stillness, the Chimera from the emptiness of its innovations”) indicating, thus, that the ultimate answer to mankind’s quest for absolute knowledge remains unknowable (Porter 2001:308). In Delville’s painting The Symbolization of Flesh and Spirit (1890) a similar polarity is introduced, accentuated by the complementarity of blue-indigo and orange-red.
Overall, Jeanne’s and Mimi’s early style of drawing remains rooted in Belgian symbolism. In the context of the two rival aesthetic approaches to painting, couched in the two Italian words: colore and disegno, Delville and Jeanne Mammen are staunchly in favor of the prior. Even in Mammen’s late paintings, which lean towards abstraction, a predilection for an invisible linear pattern or rhythmic arrangement of colors becomes evident (Klünner 1997:71–72). In contrast to Delville, however, Mammen evolved her visual language and eventually embraced the modernists’ achievements of the interwar period, whereas Delville ragingly tried to stem the tide of the ochlocrats’ advent (from the Greek word ochlos meaning mob), whose aesthetic taste, informed by their personal ambitions, ignorance and incompetence, ignored the laws of “Harmony” and encouraged “Ugliness” [Laideur] (Delville, Jean 1926:4).
This kind of critique against the materialistic values of society is very reminiscent of Péladan (Pincus-Witten 1976:40–41, 67). Thus, Delville’s and Mammen’s stance towards modernity was informed by different ideological positions. Whereas Delville regarded modern art as incidental, a product of a fatal utilitarianism seeking to provide satisfaction to the commodities as well as to the material necessities of the fleeting present, (Delville, Jean 1926:6), Mammen hailed modernism as an important vehicle for criticizing ossified political structures and processes shaped by the elite’s capitalistic ethos. In other words, whereas Delville sought to establish a new social order where the reign of money should be replaced by intellectual superiority and universal harmony, accomplished through an amalgamation of all religions in earth, Mammen, from a universal-humanistic point of view, recognized in the fleeting experience of the ephemeral moment the emergence of new possible forms of social reality.
Mammen was also enthusiastic about symbolist literature and admired authors like Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–1898), Paul Verlaine (1844–1896), and Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891). Moreover, she delved into the fantastic world and gothic atmosphere of the Romantic author Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann (1776–1822), whose The Devil’s Elixirs [Die Elixiere des Teufels, 1815–1816], inspired some illustrations, in which the young artist experimented with a mixed technique of pencil and ink drawing, watercolor and gouache.
Some of the themes she chose to depict were also heavily impregnated by the decadent imagery of the Belgian symbolist painter Félicien Rops (1833–1898). In these works, Mammen deployed biblical, historical or literary-mythological motifs such as in Salome (1908–1914) or The Death of Cleopatra (1908–1914) (Reinhardt 2002:12–18). In following Rops’s irreligious images and Delville’s lurid eroticism, a great many of these early drawings evince a socially critical stance towards established norms and widespread, legitimate beliefs. This is particularly evident in the works, where Mammen explores the inequalities, tensions and conflicts between the sexes, debating the role models and established stereotypes, often contradicting common depictions of femme fatales in the symbolist movement (Ferus 2016:143–57). For example, in her work Murderer and Victim, Repentance (1908–1914) [image at right], Mammen illustrates the scene from Hoffmann’s The Devil’s Elixir (1815–1816), where the young monk Medardus, possessed by satanic powers, murders his beloved Aurelie, but soon, in an act of repentance, collapses in remorse (Ferus 2016:144). The Christmas rose with thorns “can be understood as the symbol of a christologically sanctioned creative power, whereas the foetus-like form to the right, arising from the demonic breath, makes reference to biological fertility, which, in the context of the story, clearly has a negative connotation” (Ferus 2016:144; Reinhardt 2002:19).
It must also be emphasized that, at that time, occult movements did have a special appeal to women. This was partly because of their dissatisfaction with institutional religion, although some monastic tenets within the esoteric milieu, as is the case with the Rose-Croix Salons, excluded women from becoming members. This consonance of occultism with contemporary feminism was undoubtedly prepared by the prominence women had already enjoyed in the spiritualist movement, where feminist ideas were widespread. Besides, mediumship and trance-related alterations of consciousness enabled women to communicate their inner experiences and to be heard in a men-dominated world. Mammen’s critical stance towards male supremacy and authority took a more radical turn during the 1920s, when the artist questioned the social presuppositions upon which men’s capacity to exercise power and control is based.
Mammen’s series of illustrations inspired by Gustave Flaubert’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1874) hold a special place in her œuvre, in part because of their compositional complexity and uniqueness in historical-stylistic terms. Considering that Mammen’s iconographic venture had already been undertaken by more full-fledged artists, such as Gustave Moreau (1826–1898), Félicien Rops, Odilon Redon (1840–1916), or Fernand Khnopff, her academic teacher, it is surprising to discover that Mammen’s illustrations still display a freshness and ingenuity not only in terms of stylistic approach on the subject, but also in terms of the multifarious philosophical and religious readings they offer to the viewer. The series comprises fourteen independent sheets, which depict specific scenes from the novel (Reinhardt 2002:12). It is important to be familiar with the context in which Flaubert wrote his book in order to understand Mammen’s illustrations.
The Temptation of Saint Anthony occupied Flaubert for almost thirty years and was rewritten on three different occasions: in 1849, before Madame Bovary; in 1856, before Salambô; and in 1872, when Flaubert was writing Bouvard et Pécuchet (Harter 1998:35; Foucault 1980:87). Excerpts of his second version were published in 1856–1857 in L’Artiste (Orr 2008:3–4). Flaubert was inspired to write the story by at least three sources. Firstly, when he experienced the puppet theatre of Père Legrain at the Saint-Romain fair; secondly, when, on a trip to Italy in Genoa in 1845, he saw the painting The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Pieter Bruegel the Younger (1564–1638) at Palazzo Balbi. Finally, since the latter was not for sale, as soon as he returned from the journey, Flaubert acquired another, similar Antonius’ temptation, namely a large etching by Jacques Callot (1592–1637) dated back to 1635 (Harter 1998:35). Flaubert’s friends received his first draft of the novel with severe criticism, as they found the text rambling and deficient (Harter 1998:35). The third and last version is significantly shorter. Flaubert conducted extensive preparatory research on various sources, which he uses in the text as an overwhelming sequence of historical, mythological and literary facts. Overall, it is unlike Flaubert’s other books “by virtue of its prolixity, its wasted abundance, and its overcrowded bestiary” (Foucault 1980:88).
The legend derives from Church Father Athanasius (295-373), Bishop of Alexandria, who, around the year 365, idealized Anthony’s hermitic life to defend Trinitarianism against Arianism, which spread rapidly at the time. Father Athanasius’s venture is thus linked with the dogmatic struggles of early Christianity and therefore with the development of the Catholic Church into an institution and state church in the first four centuries (Harter 1998:12; Foucault 1980:103). The story, and consequently Flaubert’s novel, recounts Anthony’s encounter with a procession of grotesqueries and incoherent phantasies; sins, heresies, divinities, and mythical creatures parade and defile in a marvelous panorama before Anthony’s eyes, leading him to question his virtues of chastity, temperance, faith and obedience, in other words his own form of asceticism. Flaubert’s novel, however, takes a more radical turn, being from the beginning to the end “an orgy à la Sade, with as much sublimation as is compatible to the subject” (Praz 1970:156).
The orchestrator of these choirs of grotesqueries and fantasticalities appears to be Anthony’s disciple, the anchorite Hilarion, who, as the novel advances, morphs into a beautiful archangel, a luminous creature that embodies Science, even though he himself is revealed to be the Devil (Flaubert 1910:218–219). Hilarion leads Anthony into temptation by confronting his unconditional faith with the search for truth: “Ignorance is the foam of pride […]. We obtain merit only by our thirst for truth. Religion alone cannot explain all things” (Flaubert 1910:65–66). In response to Anthony’s encouragement to get to know “the hierarchy of the Angels, the virtue of the numbers, the reason of the germs and of metamorphoses” (Flaubert 1910:70), Hilarion introduces to him a multitude of tenets, heterodox faiths, esoteric beliefs, blasphemies and abominations. Anthony meets Greek and Roman gods, gods of Hinduism and Buddhism, Gnostics, followers of Christian sects, Jesus-like figures like Apollonius of Tyana and anchorites like the Gymnosophist, all of whom make him doubt the uniqueness of his faith, his asceticism and Christian teaching (Leistenschneider 2010:35–36).
All of European culture is deployed in this Egyptian night; Greek mythology, esotericism, the theology of the Middle Ages, the erudition of the Renaissance and, finally, the scientific bent of the modern period. Yet, the gradual disappearance of these phantasies, which emerge and fade into the shadows like marionettes in a puppet theater, does not reinstate Anthony’s Christian faith, but gradually undermines it until it is completely taken from him. As Michel Foucault (1926–1984) astutely remarks, in Flaubert’s novel “this domain of phantasms is no longer the night, the sleep of reason, or the uncertain void that stands before desire, but, on the contrary, wakefulness, untiring attention, zealous erudition, and constant vigilance” (Foucault 1980:90). For the construction of the scene of the heresiarchs, Flaubert culls with a scholar’s patience from various sources such as archaeology and ancient Greek literature to the history of Gnosticism and world religions.
Owing to the story’s apotropaic character, St. Anthony is presented throughout the centuries as an incarnation of the Church’s pugnacious forces against all heresies. The Restoration in France under Napoleon III (1852–1870) and the neo-Catholic movement after the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–1871 attempted to strengthen the links with the church by circulating popular Épinal prints with St. Anthony as a role model (Harter 1998:12). Thus, by addressing questions raised by third- and fourth-century Alexandria’s melting pot of culture, Flaubert sought to communicate to his contemporaries, ideologies, religions, faiths and beliefs, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Gnosticism or the cult of Isis, which did not only exist in a far-distant heathen past, but surprisingly in the core of Paris during the Second Republic (Orr 2008:25). In Foucault’s words, Alexandria seems to appear as a “zero point between Asia and Europe; both seem to arise from a fold in time, at the point where Antiquity, at the summit of its achievement, begins to vacillate and collapses, releasing its hidden and forgotten monsters; they also plant the seed of the modern world with its promise of endless knowledge. We have arrived at the hollow of history” (Foucault 1980:103).
Flaubert’s Temptation of St. Anthony has often been considered to express anti-Catholic or anti-clerical tendencies (Harter 1998:44–45; Orr 2008:7). However, in its history of reception, the story was interpreted in diverse ways (Müller-Ebeling 1997; Gendolla 1991). For example, the symbolist painter Gustave Moreau, who sympathized with a dogmatic “aesthetic of Ultramontanism,” carved for the hermit Anthony, the vanquisher of the heresy of Arius, the role of the eliminator of all modern, pluralistic heresies (Harter 1998:69–121). Mammen’s approach to the subject, on the other hand, should be read in the context of religious syncretism promoted, among others, by the French poet, Theosophist and playwright Eduard Schuré (1841–1929), who, in 1900, prefaced Delville’s seminal work The New Mission of Art [La mission de l’art] (Delville, Jean 1900). By expanding on Schuré’s esoteric ideas, Delville contended that the multifarious religious tenets stem from the same universal root, and if a universal brotherhood was to be founded, all apparent diversions among religions needed to be curtailed (Delville, Jean 1900:104–07). For Delville, all Christian theories, Catholic or Protestant, spring from Gnosticism [gnose]. Moreover, universal truths, despite the Catholic Church’s efforts to remain their true mouthpiece, should be sought within a fertile dialogue with Eastern philosophical and religious tenets (Delville, Jean 1900:104–05). However, Delville’s stance towards the Catholic Church became increasingly radicalized and complicated in the years to come (Introvigne 2014:109–12).
Mammen’s attitude towards Christianity is rather undefined. In a late ironic comment regarding her painting experiments, she remarked: “By the way, I have invented the anti-picture pill [Antibilderpille] for a few years now by surrendering daily to the pleasure of painting and, after marveling at my results, I paint over them again. What would the Pope say?” (Klünner 1997:73). Jeanne Mammen’s approach to religion remained undogmatic all her life, born out of a syncretic encounter with eastern religions and multi-ethnic cultures. On February 5, 1926, she left the Evangelical Church (oral communication by Cornelia Pastelak-Price to the author), and embraced a more universal approach to religions, similar to that of Schuré and Delville.
Mammen’s illustrations for the Temptation of St. Anthony testify to an intensive occupation with both European and Far Eastern religions and philosophies. Mammen’s interest in Buddhist and Hindu iconography also found its way into her private life. The poet Lothar Klünner (1922–2012) recollects the following: “On my first visit I noticed the golden shining chunky Buddha, who, enthroned on the base of the mahogany mirror, occupies a dominant position in the small room. However, I could not guess the deeper meaning Jeanne attached to it (or had previously attached to it); she had created numerous illustrations, symbolic watercolors of great magical expressiveness that sought to convey mysteries more intensively than those of Rops and Khnopff, role models from the time in Brussels. The illustrations were intended for a book that obviously could no longer appear after the outbreak of World War I, namely The Life of Buddha.” (Klünner 1991:41–42; Leistenschneider 2010:29–31).
It has also been suggested that the two Buddha drawings [image at right], intended to illustrate the Temptation of St. Anthony (Flaubert 1910:161–65), have as their source the Buddha biography Lalitavistara (Leistenschneider 2010:62–63). The figure of Buddha appears seated in the posture of Vīrāsana (the posture of the hero) among a throng of grotesque creatures and fantastic animals. The Buddha depicted here is the Buddha Amitābha of Japanese Amidism, who is tempted by the demon Mara, as described in Lalitavistara. Looking at the artistic-technical elements of these works, it also becomes clear that Mammen had not only a profound knowledge of Far Eastern iconography, but also the knowledge of an Asian painting style (Leistenschneider 2010:97).
Mammen’s Gymnosophist, a name given by the Greeks to ancient Indian philosophers who pursued asceticism to the point of regarding vesture and nutrition detrimental to purity of thought, is depicted “seated upon a sort of pyre at the entrance of the wood […], naked, more withered than a mummy (Flaubert 1910:118). [Image at right] By loathing form, perception and even knowledge itself, for “the thought does not survive the transitory fact which caused it, and mind, like all else, is only an illusion” (Flaubert 1910:120–121), the Gymnosophist has reached a state of impassivity (Reinhardt 2002:27–28).
After the presentation of Christian, Buddhist and Hindu forms of asceticism, Mammen introduces the ancient ascetic and Neopythagorean philosopher and teacher, Apollonius of Tyana. According to the Greek sophist Philostratus (170–247), Apollonius lived during the first century AD a wandering life in India and Egypt, among other places. He has often been regarded as a Jesus-like figure, who lived with supernatural powers, performed miracles and underwent heavenly assumption. In Arabic occultist literature, he was considered the alleged master of alchemy and the author of various occultist writings (Leistenschneider 2010:73). Mammen depicts him as an effeminate, lascivious young man, [Image at right] who is confident of his ability not only to “tear down the panoplies of the Gods,” but also to “explain the reasons of the divine forms” (Flaubert 1910:149–51). His acolyte and lifelong companion, Damis, is preparing to join him in his immersion into the Absolute and the Infinity. This last event is accentuated by the projection of Apollonius’s body in front of a huge planetary sigil, very much reminiscent of those that the German Theosophist and future founder of the Anthroposophical Society, Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), introduced to the Theosophical public during the Munich Conference in 1907 (Lierl and Roder 2008:28–31).
In 1911, after finishing their fine art studies in Paris and Brussels, Jeanne Mammen and her sister moved to Rome, where they attended the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma and the Scuola Libera del Nudo dell’Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma. The following year, Mammen and her sister returned to Paris where they shared a studio. Soon, however, they moved to Brussels and established a studio there. As mentioned by Jeanne Mammen in a few undated handwritten notes referring to biographical data, they participated in exhibitions at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris in 1912 and in Brussels the following year (Reinhardt, Georg 1991:84). Despite recent research, no official documents have been found that would prove her registered participation (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:182).
After the outbreak of World War I, in 1914, the German Mammen family, now declared as enemy aliens, had to flee France. In early January 1915, all their assets were seized. Upon their arrival in Berlin in 1915, the family lived at Motzstraße 33 (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:183). During the war and postwar years Berlin’s population suffered economic hardship and food rationing. Jeanne Mammen and her sister had to support themselves. They used their artistic skills and tried to earn their living with book illustrations, designed movie posters and took on other occasional jobs such as photo retouching.
In 1920, Jeanne Mammen and her sister moved into a studio apartment at Kurfürstendamm 29, in the rear building on the fourth floor, where Jeanne Mammen lived and worked until her death on April 22, 1976. Her Atelier at Kurfürstendamm allows to reconstruct Mammen’s aesthetic predilections. She combined the trivial and insignificant with the sublime. When the art historian and founding director of the Berlinische Galerie, Eberhard Roters (1929–1994) visited Jeanne Mammen during the last years of her life, he described her Atelier. On closer inspection, the visitor’s eye discovers in every corner and shelf little figures or idols, as well as Christmas tree ornaments and pearls (Roters 1978:10). In the painting corner was a white picture, with “mysterious runes,” the last one she had been working on, not on an easel, but sitting at working height on the upper edge of another large picture turned against the wall with its front (Roters 1978:11). Jeanne Mammen was an incessant reader throughout her life and her passion for literature is documented by the diversity and multiple languages of the books in her library in Berlin, which conveys her “Geisteshaltung” (mindset) (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:182). Among the authors are: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891), including her published translation (1967) of his Illuminations, Paul Verlaine (1844–1896), Jules Laforgue (1860–1887), James Joyce (1882–1941), Paul Valéry (1871–1945), Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956), Albert Camus (1913–1960), Jean Cocteau (1889–1963), René Char (1907–1988), Jacques Dupin (1927–2012). Moreover, there are books written by Mammen’s friend, Erich Kuby (1910–2005), including Mein Krieg (1975), scientific writings by the natural scientist Max Delbrück (1906–1981), as well as poetry by Johannes Hübner (1921–1977), Joachim Uhlmann (born 1925) and Lothar Klünner (1922–2012) (Klünner 1991:43).
The economic and social consequences of World War I, as well as the inflationary currency devaluation, made it difficult for Mammen to earn her living, until the situation improved gradually during the next decades. After settling in Berlin, Jeanne and Mimi tried to sell illustrations to newspapers and journals, but with little success. However, in 1916, the Kunstgewerbeblatt (arts and crafts magazine) published a series of reproductions of symbolist works created by the two artists during their time in Brussels. In a short article, the critic Fritz Hellwag (1871–1950) welcomed the book illustrations and expressed his wish that more publishers would eventually take notice of their talent (Hellwag 1916:181). In the journal, one could also see illustrations by Mimi Mammen, signed with the pseudonym M. L. Folcardy (Drenker-Nagels 1997:40). These works, apparently drawing inspiration from the symbolist milieu in Brussels, are executed in a much more linear style than those of Jeanne Mammen. Mimi’s affinity to Hinduism is quite apparent; for example, in her drawing entitled Apsâra [image at right], the titular ethereal female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu culture (its mission being to entertain and seduce the gods and men) is captured by Mimi’s hand in a state of dance. Equally, the drawing of Prometheus, strongly resonates Delville’s imagery, as mentioned above.
At the beginning of the Twenties, as Jeanne Mammen received more and more commissions, she apparently found the symbolist vocabulary jarring with the social reality in the metropolis of Berlin and cast the symbolist heritage aside for the sake of a more realistic and observant grasp of social issues. The reasons for this abrupt change of style are not quite clear, but they may well be linked to the market’s demands. Mammen gradually succeeded in establishing herself as a sought-after graphic artist supporting herself with commissioned artwork. She created many watercolors and drawings for periodicals and magazines during that period. She also designed movie posters for Universal Films (UFA), title pages and illustrations for fashion or satirical magazines, such as Die Dame (1922–1934), Die deutsche Elite (1924–1930), Der Junggeselle (1924–1926), Der Querschnitt (1924–1934), Jugend (1925–1930) Uhu (1924–1929) Die schöne Frau (1926–1927). (Reinhardt and von Stetten 1981:106; FJMS 2005:24–25; Drenker-Nagels 1997:42). Mammen’s drawings have a “French flair,” which proved to be very effective advertising since Paris was the capital of haute couture. In 1927, the satirical magazine Simplicissimus (1927–1933), published in Munich, was added to the list.
Mammen’s approach towards her subjects remained socially critical. The recurrent motifs depict not only the proletarian and petty bourgeois but also the newly-rich urban milieu. They reflect upon the hustle and bustle of the Golden Twenties in Berlin; single young women, who worked in the metropolis of Berlin as secretaries, sales clerks or waitresses, spending what little money they had in boutiques, bars, cafés, revue theater or at balls (FJMS 2005:24–25). Hence, Jeanne Mammen became a chronicler not only of the “Golden Twenties” in Berlin but also of the dark sides of the Weimar Republic.
In 1930, Wolfgang Gurlitt (1888–1965) organized the first comprehensive solo exhibition for Jeanne Mammen at his father’s Galerie Gurlitt in Berlin and commissioned the artist to create a series of colored lithographs in a “free and modern style”. They were to illustrate a lavish bibliophile edition of Les Chansons de Bilitis [The songs of Bilitis], written by the French Symbolist novelist and poet Pierre Louÿs (1870–1925) in 1894 on the theme of lesbian love (Reinhardt 2017:80–99; Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:186). Louÿs’s book, which is “dedicated to the young girls of the future society”, must have delighted Jeanne Mammen, whose artwork of that period often depicts scenes of lesbian love, which at that time was practiced fairly openly. Additionally, Jeanne Mammen’s rendition of an elegant, delicate, androgynous ideal of feminine beauty echoes Khnopff’s and Delville’s corresponding attempts to merge in one creature all the principles that divide men and the world. However, the edition for the planned book was completed at a time when the National Socialist regime came to power; consequently, a publication with such homoerotic content had become unthinkable (Reinhardt 2017:82; Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:186).
When the NS-regime came to power in 1933, Mammen was strongly opposed to it. Journals that she had worked for as a freelance artist were prohibited or brought into party line. She gave notice to Simplicissimus, the source of her main income, that she would stop working for them, and her professional career came to an abrupt end. She registered as unemployed until 1938. The income was meager and once again, she took on various jobs to survive. Her registration with the Reichskammer der bildenden Künste (Reich chamber of fine arts) as a commercial graphic artist enabled her to continue to paint in her “inner emigration” in her studio apartment. In opposition to official cultural ideology, she abandoned her realistic style and developed a “cubo-expressionistic” style of painting. Mammen’s sister, Mimi, gave up professional painting for the most part during the mid-1920s. She worked as a secretary for an export company and in 1936 she moved to Teheran to live with her partner Henriette Goldenberg (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017: 190–191; Lütgens 191:215).
During the late 1920s, the artist and poet Hans Uhlmann (1900–1975) became a very close friend of Jeanne Mammen. Uhlmann was a member of the communist party of Germany and was arrested for a political action in 1933. Mammen visited him during his incarceration, gave him moral support and brought him books and drawing materials. The artist also met the natural scientist Max Delbrück (1906–1981) in 1935 with whom she was to share a lifelong friendship, and the following year the writer and journalist Erich Kuby (1910–2005). When Max Delbrück left for the United States in 1937, he took several of Mammen’s paintings with him and exhibited them in his institute CALTECH in Pasadena in 1938 (FJMS 2005:34).
Jeanne Mammen survived the war years in her studio apartment. She was forced to participate in various work assignments such as obligatory civil air defense training and mandatory firefighting training. During this period, she created a remarkable body of work (degenerate art, in Nazi’s view), which fortunately she was able to keep hidden until after the war. In 1937, Mammen traveled to the world exhibition in Paris, where she saw Pablo Picasso’s (1881–1973) Guernica in the Spanish pavilion. The picture made a deep impression on the artist. During the Nazi’s ascension to power, Mammen made a radical break with realism, while pursuing a new language of form and a new content. She found it in cubism and especially in Picasso’s analytic cubism, of which Jeanne was an ardent admirer (Förster 1997:62). The disintegration of the real, the analysis of visible forms into stereometric basic elements, as well as the conception of multiple simultaneous perspective manifest themselves in Mammen’s work of this period. Moreover, she also created clay and plaster sculptures, made three-dimensional objects and experimented with various other materials. She also painted a series of portraits in which representatives of the Nazi regime appear as fragmented, boorish and unrefined, as is the case with the painting The General. Some pictures in the series use animal symbols, dogs or wolves in uniform to express the violence and destructive rage of the Nazi rulers (Förster 1997:65). During this time, Mammen also started translating French texts by Picasso and immersed herself in translating Arthur Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations and Une saison en Enfer into German (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:191-92). During the last years of the war, her studio apartment was partly destroyed by heavy bombings.
After the war, contact with Max Delbrück and Mammen’s other Berlin friends now living in the U.S. and England, was reestablished. She shipped some of her paintings to Max Delbrück. Her friends supported her by sending food, clothing and painting materials. Jeanne Mammen was one of the first modern artists in postwar Germany. Her artwork was exhibited in several shows in Berlin and Dresden. In August 1945, Mammen participated in the show “After Twelve Years – Antifascist Painters and Sculptors Exhibit,” which her friend Hans Uhlmann organized as director of the department of fine arts at the public educational office Berlin-Steglitz.
Mammen belonged to the circle of avant-garde artists at the renowned Galerie Gerd Rosen in Berlin, which was the first private gallery in postwar Germany (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:193) to present modern artists after the war. In this exhibition, as well as in an individual exhibition that was arranged for her in 1947, Mammen presented works from the period of the Nazi dictatorship. Out of the circle of artists connected to the Galerie Rosen, Mammen became close friends with the painter Hans Thiemann (1910–1977), who belonged to the “Berliner Phantasten” and his wife, the photographer Elsa Franke (1910–1981). They maintained a lively correspondence after Thiemann moved to Hamburg in 1960 (JMG 1979). Illustration jobs for the political-satirical magazine Ulenspiegel (1946–1948) and for the cultural magazine Athena (1947–1948) were Mammen’s meager source of income from 1946 to 1948. The city’s war-ravaged landscape provided the circumstances for the foundation in 1949 of the artists’ cabaret The Bathtub [Die Badewanne], which staged Surreal-Dadaistic performances (Klünner 1997:72). Mammen joined this bohemian group and created sceneries, backdrops and costumes in an attempt to reflect upon Germany’s recent past. During a Rimbaud evening, her new translations of the Illuminations were part of the program. Other important friendships of this period include the painter Hans Laabs (1915–2004) and the young poets Joachim Hübner (1921–1977) and Lothar Klünner (1922–2012). From then on, Mammen met regularly with the two poets and translators, who became lifelong friends. Over the years, she contributed a great deal to their German translations of French authors such as René Char (1907–1988) and Jacques Dupin (1927–2012). Mammen did not participate in the political increasingly bitter ideological East-West controversies, which also involved contemporary art. The influential group of Berlin painters boycotted her artwork. She withdrew into her privacy, spent time with her friends, traveled and most of all concentrated on painting in her studio apartment. In 1954, Galerie Bremer in Berlin organized her second solo exhibition after the war, for which she received enthusiastic reviews by the press (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:197–98).
During the 1950’s and 1960’s her artwork developed from a graphic phase to a freer polychrome style, for which art historians coined the term “lyrical abstraction” (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:199). The poet and translator Lothar Klünner tracks this change in Mammen’s style down to the late 1940s, with the artist abandoning the previous cubo-expressionistic visual language and venturing towards a “mystic path” (Klünner 1997:69). The aggressive, acute angles of the interwar period gave way now to suppler and lither curves, whereas her palette moved to earthier tone colors. Eventually, Mammen moved to non-representational art. The rhythm, lines, colors she applied became more intense and brilliant (Klünner 1997:70–71).
During the Sixties, Mammen undertook several journeys to Venice, England, Spain and Morocco. In May 1969, she set out on a trip to Morocco with Max Delbrück and his wife, Manny (1917–1998), in the course of which she became seriously ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized in Rabat-Salé (Pastelak-Price and Quitsch 2017:201). After her return to Berlin, she recovered and created several large format abstract paintings. In her late artwork (1965–1975), which consists of the so-called numinous paintings, Jeanne Mammen embarked on an exploration of more abstract modes of representation; she began to integrate colored foil from candy wrappers and used mystic signs, which are interpreted by some scholars as psychograms (Lütgens 1991:179). In some of these paintings, a connection to her early symbolist artwork can be observed. Paintings, such as Kabbala (1960–1965), Ghosts (“Abracadabra”) (1960–1965), Adam and Eve (1960–1965) and Contemplation (1960–1965), demonstrate Mammen’s fascination with molecular biology, zodiac circles, signs of planets, ciphers and masks. Interestingly enough, Paul Klee’s (1879–1940) paintings may have been a source of inspiration during this period. Lütgens describes Mammen’s development as a youthful immersion in the world of forms and ideas of Symbolism to the compressed language of ciphers in old age (Lütgens 1991:181–83). These incoherent signs, these capricious recollections of some scattered flashes from her past, appear like disembodied and abstract phantoms emerging from her earlier symbolist illustrations, (one could say in a more vivid manner) like the dream sequences that surreptitiously disrupt Giulietta’s train of thought in the surrealist and fantasy-comedy film Juliet of the Spirits [Giulietta degli spiriti] (1965) by Federico Fellini (1920-1993), which was, not surprisingly, Jeanne Mammen’s favorite movie. Interestingly enough, the androgynous figure of the German Jewish dancer and artist, Valeska Gert (1892–1978), who was rediscovered by Fellini in the 1960s and was cast in the above-mentioned film, had been painterly captured by Jeanne Mammen thirty-five years ago (Lütgens 1991:180).
In 1967, Mammen finished her translation Illuminationen of the prose poem Les Illuminations (1886) by Arthur Rimbaud. It was published by Insel-Verlag, Frankfurt/Main. In 1970, in honor of her eightieth birthday the “Neuer Berliner Kunstverein” organized an exhibition with some Mammen’s artwork from 1929 to 1970. The following year, an extensive solo-exhibition was organized by Hans Brockstedt, in his gallery in Hamburg, showing a large body of sketchbook sheets and watercolors created in Paris and Brussels before 1915, as well as watercolors and drawings from the 1920’s in Berlin. This successful exhibition traveled to other galleries in Germany.
During 1972 and 1975, an encounter between the art critic and photographer Hans Kinkel and Jeanne Mammen took place, in the course of which the artist showed him for the first time a portfolio with her early symbolist artwork, which she had preserved in her studio apartment. Kinkel later mentioned that “in a chest of drawers Mammen kept hidden strangely romantic, ornamental, rampant phantasmagorias, which have never been exhibited or published anywhere” (Kinkel 1975). Apart from the illustrations of St. Anthony there were many other symbolist works. In October 1975, Jeanne Mammen completed her last painting, which was titled by friends Promise of a Winter [Verheißung eines Winters]. After Mammen’s demise in Berlin, in 1976, friends of the artist founded the “Jeanne-Mammen-Gesellschaft” (a non-profit organization). Among the founding members was the renowned art historian and critic Eberhard Roters (1929–1994), founding director of the Berlinische Galerie.
Mammen’s friend, Lothar Klünner, remarked regarding the painter’s spiritual peregrinations: “We were not religiously motivated, not even committed to Zen or Tao. Rather, we followed in the footsteps of the early Romantics, who were not afraid to explore the unconscious, the shady, the dark side of existence […]. If there is a lack of experience in this dark zone, a whole nation can fall prey, as it turned out, to the temptations of irrational fanfare” (Klünner 1997:73). Mammen’s taciturnity on her early symbolist artwork becomes clear in the light of the above statement. Taking into account that Theodor W. Adorno’s (1903–1969) famous theses against occultism were published in 1951 (Adorno 1991:321–329), and the fact that a multitude of German painters, who dabbled in esotericism, undisguisedly supported the Nazi regime (such as the symbolist artist Fidus (Hugo Höppener, 1868-1948)), one can assume that the times were not yet ripe for a sober discussion of Mammen’s symbolist artwork.
****All images are clickable links to enlarged representations.
Image #1: Jeanne Mammen, St. Anthony and the Seven Deadly Sins, ca. 1908–1914, watercolor, pencil and ink, 28 x 21 cm. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018. Reproduction © archive Förderverein der Jeanne-Mammen-Stiftung e.V. i. L.
Image #2: Jeanne Mammen, St. Anthony and the Queen of Sheba, ca. 1908–1914, watercolor, pencil and ink, 31.5 x 27 cm. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018. Reproduction © archive Förderverein der Jeanne-Mammen-Stiftung e.V. i. L.
Image #3: M. L. Folcardy, Prometheus. P. 191 in Kunstgewerbeblatt, Neue Folge, 1915–16, 27:10.
Image #4: Jeanne Mammen, Sphinx and Chimera (second version), ca. 1908–1914, watercolor, pencil and ink, 37 x 26.8 cm. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018. Reproduction © archive Förderverein der Jeanne-Mammen-Stiftung e.V. i. L.
Image #5: Jeanne Mammen, Murderer and Victim; Repentance, ca. 1908–1914, watercolor, pencil and ink, 30.3 x 21 cm. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018. Reproduction © archive Förderverein der Jeanne-Mammen-Stiftung e.V. i. L.
Image #6: Jeanne Mammen, The Temptation of Buddha (first version), ca. 1908–1914, watercolor, pencil and ink, 33.8 x 23.7 cm. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018. Reproduction © archive Förderverein der Jeanne-Mammen-Stiftung e.V. i. L.
Image #7: Jeanne Mammen, The Gymnosophist, ca. 1908–1914, watercolor, pencil and ink, 28.5 x 27 cm. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018. Reproduction © archive Förderverein der Jeanne-Mammen-Stiftung e.V. i. L.
Image #8: Jeanne Mammen, Apollonius and Damis, ca. 1908–1914, watercolor, pencil and ink, 28.5 x 27 cm. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018. Reproduction © archive Förderverein der Jeanne-Mammen-Stiftung e.V. i. L.
Image #9: M. L. Folcardy (Mimi Mammen), Apsâra. P.181 in Kunstgewerbeblatt, Neue Folge, 1915–16, 27:10, 1916
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