Brussels with a fourteen-hour-day curriculum, and the Scuola Libera
del Nudo dell’Academia di Belle Arti in Rome. Her education ended in
1915 after the outbreak of World War I, when her family was declared enemies of the state by the French government and stripped of their assets
and home. They returned to Berlin as refugees.
Mammen found the city personally alienating, yet from an artist’s
point of view, Weimar Berlin was a city unlike any other. For fourteen
years, it was marked by explosive artistic and intellectual productivity.
Germany became a center of Freudian psychoanalysis. Albert Einstein
lived and taught in Berlin, artists Otto Dix and George Grosz published
their political caricatures, Fritz Lang made his futuristic, dystopian
film, Metropolis, and at the Bauhaus, a new austere architectural style
was taking shape. The art movement Dadaism thrived, and concerts included atonal, discordant music.
Print media in Berlin flourished, with newspapers and magazines
publishing more illustrations than photographs. Needing to support
herself, Mammen found commissions as a graphic artist, designing
movie posters, illustrating clothes for exclusive fashion journals, and
drawing sketches for pieces of social satire. Practiced on the streets of
Paris and Berlin, her distinctive, recognizable style—a simplified, elegant line with a wash of color added later—made her popular among
high-circulation magazines and journals. She published in Uhu, an art
and culture magazine, Ulk, a popular satirical journal, and Die Dame
and Styl, elite fashion magazines.
Many of her illustrations depict Berlin’s version of the “Golden Twenties,” which was more politically and economically complicated than that
of the United States. Defeat in World War I and the Treaty of Versailles
resulted in inflation, mass unemployment, food shortages, and social
chaos. Postwar trauma opened the door to rampant vice and political uncertainty, as well as to extremists, including Nazis and communists who
battled in the street for political control of the city. Yet at the same time,
there were rapid changes and reforms. With the right to vote and opportunities to study at academies and universities, women moved beyond
the conventional roles of wife and mother. It became socially acceptable
for them to attend cabarets, cafés, bars, and nightclubs, which were filled
with globe-trotters, amusement seekers, and dance-crazed revelers.
As they did in the United States, Germany’s modern youth broke
with the staid and bankrupt values of their parents. Since money was
nearly worthless, young people spent their cash on pleasure. Berlin’s