Watercolorist, painter, printmaker. Raised in Paris. Studied art in Paris, Brussels, and Rome from 1906 until 1911. As a German citizen, was forced to flee France with her family at outbreak of World War I; lost all possessions. Impoverished, settled in Berlin in 1916, where she eventually earned a living making illustrations for fashion magazines and posters for Universum-Film AG (UFA), the film distributor.
After 1924 frequently published drawings and watercolors in major satirical periodicals such as Ulk and Simplicissimus, for which she chronicled the experiences of Berlin’s crop-haired, self-reliant “new women” at work and leisure — experiences that mirrored her own. Often showed them in cramped, distorted spaces, some rendered in lurid tones reminiscent of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and others in brilliant, orphic colors of the prewar Parisian avant-garde. Enjoyed growing commercial and critical success; in 1930 had first solo exhibition at Galerie Gurlitt in Berlin. At publisher Wolfgang Gurlitt’s behest, made lithographs illustrating a book of erotic Sapphic poetry, Les Chansons de Bilitis, in 1931–32, which was banned by the Nazis.
Under Nazi dictatorship, remained in Germany but lived in a state of “inner emigration”; refused to exhibit or publish. Turned increasingly to painting in Cubist and Expressionist styles out of solidarity with artists who Nazis defamed as degenerate.
quoted from MoMA
Jeanne Mammen (1890–1976) made her name in the late 1920s with illustrations for magazines like Simplicissimus, Ulk and Jugend. In an enthusiastic review, Kurt Tucholsky wrote that her figures leaped “from the paper with skin and hair”. Mammen’s favourite motif were women in the city: in a café, at a ball, at the bar or in some sleazy joint. “The Redhead”, printed in Ulk in 1928, sits in the hairdresser’s chair. She is lost in thought as she looks towards the viewer: we are her mirror. The hairdresser is just finishing off the job. The look is perfect: the pale smock, the white skin, the brown shades in the background are an ideal background to set off her red hair, her lips and the blue shadow around her catlike eyes. “The Redhead”is a vamp rather than the sassy athletic young lass more typical of the times. This capricious creature exudes an air of cold detachment. Her beauty is not intended to seduce but is sufficient unto itself. [quoted from Berlinische Galerie]