Through the eyes of Jeanne Mammen

Seeing the world through the eyes of Jeanne Mammen – this was the theme of a celebratory evening at Campus Buch to mark the 132nd birthday of the artist and friend of Max Delbrück. The reading officially opened the project CampusArt – Science and Art on the Campus.

Dr. Martina Weinland, Cultural Heritage Officer of the Stadtmuseum Berlin

On 21 November, Dr. Martina Weinland, Cultural Heritage Officer at the Stadtmuseum Berlin, took around 30 guests in the Jeanne-Mammen room in Berlin-Buch on an impressive trip through Berlin from 1915 to 1976. This was when the painter Jeanne Mammen lived in her studio in the “Gartenhaus” (Garden House) at Kudamm 29. It was here that she worked, and from here that she shared her thoughts in a decades-long correspondence with Max Delbrück. The biophysicist, geneticist and later Nobel Prize winner had met Mammen in 1935 at a home concert given by the married couples Gaffron and Wohl in their villa at the Schlachtensee lake: Mr Gaffron and Mr Wohl were natural scientists and Grete Wohl was a trained pianist. With her paintings from the 1920s, Jeanne Mammen (21. 11.1890 – 22. 4. 1976) has become one of Berlin's most famous female painters and illustrators.

I have actually always wanted to be just a pair of eyes, to walk through the world unseen, only seeing others.
Jeanne Mammen
Jeanne Mammen Artist

A walk through Berlin

Surrounded by Mammen’s paintings and sculptures, around 30 guests accompanied Martina Weinland on an exploration of the artist’s world, from the Berlin of Imperial Germany, to the 1920s, all the way to the Berlin of National Socialism. They heard about the destruction of the city, and the difficult years that followed, when Mammen received care parcels from Delbrück who was by then researching in America. She even used the twine from the parcels to create artworks. In the “Badewanne” cabaret (1949), she made more lifelong friends in the young poets Lothar Klünner and Johannes Hübner.

In August 1975, a year before her death, Jeanne Mammen wrote of this wonderful period in a letter to Max Delbrück: “[…] we all still had guts back then and there was an explosion of humour, intellect and poetry directly in Berlin. Life is becoming increasingly stupid today, all you can do is shut yourself away in your room like a hermit to avoid being infected by the general malaise.” 

Jeanne Mammen modeling the clay sculpture "Male Head", (undated, c. 1945-1949)

Two exhibitions

Jeanne Mammen’s studio on the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin, her “Zauberbude” (magic den), has been preserved and since 2018 has been in the care of the Stadtmuseum Berlin. It can be visited on guided tours or by arrangement with Dr. Martina Weinland ( Jeanne Mammen’s living and working space can also be experienced virtually in a 360° tour.

The virtual Jeanne-Mammen exhibition at Campus Buch guides visitors through the collection with dozens of her paintings and sculptures, presented in the gatehouse. The exhibition is part of the CampusArt project, funded by the LOTTO foundation and supported by the Max Delbrück Center.

Text: Dana Lafuente


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