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.


Berlinische Galerie

Landesmuseum für Moderne
Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur
Stiftung Öffentlichen Rechts

Alte Jakobstraße 124–128
10969 Berlin Germany

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