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25Photogene Monarchen

ca 1967
Painting, oil and tinfoil on cardboard, 148 x 99 cm

Photogene Monarchen

In the 1960s Jeanne Mammen began working on a series of late collages using glossy paper, such as the ”Photogene Monarchen” (Photogenic monarchs). The background is composed of red, blue and yellow colors. Two figures are recognizable in the foreground. They are broken down into repetitive segments, which is reminiscent on the multiple perspectives of Cubist works. Here the repetition is directed upward, lending the figures a totem-pole like character. In the intervals Mammen has glued glossy paper; some are colorful, others painted over; they have patterns or texts from companies. ”Photogene Monarchen” thematizes a contemporary event. In June 1967, Iranian Shah Reza Pahlewi and his wife Farah Diba visited Berlin. Protests directed at his political actions led to violent confrontations between the police and the extra-parliamentary opposition. This occurred on the Kurfürstendamm, the street where Jeanne Mammen lived. The painting shows the Shah and his wife from the front; at the bottom short legs can be recognized, and in the bottom right half and the top left their arms are stretched to wave. The two figures are composed of stacked and nested elements. The Shah consists of five elements that resemble the skulls of goats with big eyes, scanning to the left and right. His wife‘s torso and head resemble vases, empty vessels – the top-most one holding two empty-looking eyes. Both are covered with bits of glossy paper, perhaps an allusion to the Sha‘s ceremonial uniform. It‘s Mammen‘s way of exposing the superficiality of the monarchs.