A tour of Berlin Wall art
The Berlin Wall and its fall inspired many artists, who adorned its surface with works both personal and political. The art ranges from large pieces in the East Side Gallery to small installations that shine in the dark.
The longest stretch of the original
In 1990, the East Side Gallery was created by 118 artists from 21 countries painting on this original piece of the Berlin Wall. It is also an ideal starting point for a tour of wall art. But there are also lesser known places along the former death strip and checkpoints, where artists drew inspiration from a divided Berlin.
A wall segment called the Hinterlandmauer in Berlin's Mauerpark is constantly sprayed anew. Graffiti on this original piece of the Berlin Wall in the Prenzlauer Berg district is sometimes political, but always illegal. Spraying there is often tolerated - although police do intervene at times. Berlin emerged as a center of street art with its wall graffiti in the 1980s.
Rabbits lived along the border and border crossings, like this one at Chausseestrasse in the Mitte district. So, Berlin artist Karla Sachse dedicated her "Rabbit Field" work to them. The rabbits used to set off false alarms along the heavily guarded inner German border and also succeeded in undermining it by digging a network of tunnels underneath the Berlin Wall.
Former West Berliners and East Germans were able to pass the border over the Sandkrug bridge on the Invalidenstrasse so long as they had a visa. Here you'll find artist Gabriele Basch's "Golden West" installation, reflecting the hopes of those crossing the border. In this mosaic, the trademark logos of Shell, Mercedes and Lufthansa look more like archeological finds, relicts of a forgotten age.
For the victims
The border used to run right through the middle of today's government district. This is where Ben Wagin and other artists created the "Parliament of Trees" in 1990. On pieces of the original Berlin Wall, there are quotes from the era of German reunification as well as pictures of control, violence and escape. Memorial stones for those killed at the Berlin Wall complete the installation.
Yadegar Asisi's panorama at Checkpoint Charlie depicts what a day at the Berlin Wall in the 1980s looked like. The 15-meter-high painting offers an authentic view from the district of Kreuzberg over to Mitte in East Berlin - all in one-to-one scale. Asisi used to live in Berlin-Kreuzberg back in the early 1980s.
Cold War soldiers
In 1961, there was a tense standoff between Soviet and American tanks at the Checkpoint Charlie border crossing. Frank Thiel's lightbox installation recalls the event: an American and a Soviet soldier can be seen standing back to back looking into one another's territory.
Off the wall
The Freedom Park, which opened in 2012 at the Checkpoint Charlie border crossing, is controversial. Here you can purchase entire pieces of the original Berlin Wall, which have been adorned by artists such as James Rizzi or Lisa Grubb from New York. One of the first artists to paint on parts of the Berlin Wall on the West Berlin side was Keith Haring in the 1980s.
Winners and losers
Every night, at the former border crossing at the Oberbaumbrücke bridge, two shining circles play rock-paper-scissors. Thorsten Goldberg's light installation relies, like the children's game of the same name, on chance to establish who wins and who loses.
Jonathan Borofsky's "Molecule Man" near the Oberbaumbrücke bridge symbolizes human existence as the sum of molecules. The three aluminum figures, 30 meters high and weighing an impressive 45 tons, seem to hover over the water - right in the middle of the former inner German border formed by the river Spree. Berlin Wall art with a universal message.