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Artist dies

September 19, 2010

The former East German socialist painter Walter Womacka died on Saturday at the age of 84. The announcement was made by a society campaigning to preserve his iconic murals on buildings in Berlin.

A painting by Womacka
Womacka was one of the leading socialist artists in former East GermanyImage: DHM

Walter Womacka has died at the age of 84. The painter was among the leading artists in the former German Democratic Republic. His work was strongly influenced by the school of Socialist Realism.

Womacka, who died on Saturday, was one of the most famous state artists in former East Germany. His frieze, "Our Lives," which covers the facade of an office building on Berlin's Alexanderplatz, remains a reminder of the history of socialism in the German capital. At 125 meters long it is one of Europe's largest murals.

Before the fall of communism in 1989, Womacka's image entitled "On the Beach" was ubiquitous in East Germany. The painting was reproduced on calendars, postcards and stamps and was a familiar feature in thousands of GDR households.

Campaign to save his work

Womacka was one of the most eminent artists and art teachers in East Germany. He later defended the regime, and said he had no regrets about his loyalty to the communist party. For Womacka, the fall of the Berlin Wall had been the death knell to his career.

The society which announced his death, Friends of Walter Womacka, has been campaigning to preserve the artist's iconic murals. Many of the office and apartment blocks in former East Germany have been demolished to make way for more modern buildings.

The society has successfully raised funds to save one of Womacka's pictures, "Human, the Measure of All Things." The mosaic was mounted on an office block which is to be torn down.

Author: Joanna Impey (dpa/epd)
Editor: Ben Knight