Skip to main content

21Ètoile du matin

ca 1954
Painting, oil on canvas, 135 x 100 cm

Ètoile du matin

The ”Étoile du matin” is one of a group of abstract paintings in which Jeanne Mammen was experimenting with the material nature of her paints. Nothing is depicted here, which allows Mammen to place the focus on the depth created by the paint and varnish and the various techniques she has used. The background is grey. Mammen then applied several layers of paint and varnish, dabbed, sprayed and dribbled. The center is dominated by an irregular pattern of black lines surrounded by smudged red-brown outlines. Oranges, reds, browns and light blue spots and sprayed areas of paint and varnish fill the entire painting with hardly any gaps. The focus on materials and structure emphasizes the abstract character of the piece. The French title ”Étoile du matin” refers to the ”morning star”, in English – the brightest body in the sky before dawn, which announces sunrise. The dark lines in the center of the painting may refer to the mythological significance of this celestial body. In antiquity, the morning star was also called the bringer or bearer of light – in Latin, Lucifer. In Christian mythology this is used to refer to the figure of light who, after refusing to serve man was cast by God down into the darkness of hell. This may account for the dark, mystic atmosphere of the piece.