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7Der General

ca 1942
Painting, tempera on cardboard, 100 x 70cm


The painting ”Der General” (the General) belongs to the same series as the ”Gelehrte Herren”. The cubist style with which Jeanne Mammen portrayed representatives of National Socialism made it impossible to recognize the identity of specific individuals. Instead, people were rendered in such abstract forms that here, it is almost impossible to recognize ”Der General” as a human being. The background in the image is red. This creates an impression of blazing flames, emphasized by red and pink points near the right side of the head, which are reminiscent of sparks. The upper area of the painting is dark and hints at the form of a spiked helmet. In the middle is a braided tassel, below a white, jagged line representing the tip. The face of the General is completely broken down into basic geometrical shapes to the point that there is nothing recognizable as human left. Two small white dots might represent eyes and a small, high rectangle the nose; it sits in front of the face like a board. The white triangle with red hatching, pointing downward, might be a mustache; below it the white rectangle with black horizontal lines and white spots might represent a mouth with teeth. More recognizable are his epaulettes, at the bottom of the picture, which are shoulder ornaments signifying a high-ranking military officer. With ”Der General”, Mammen is dehumanizing the military. It is important for her to portray these powerful individuals as equally grotesque and dangerously incendiary.

Father Picasso set the example: he had no fear, only courage. I don‘t have any completely abstract pictures – there is always the experience of a form in them.

Quote from Jeanne Mammen 1890 – 1976, published by the Jeanne-Mammen-Gesellschaft in conjunction with the Berlinischen Galerie 1978, Edition Cantz Stuttgart – Bad Cannstatt, p.102