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BERLIN: Art & Architecture April 2013

One of the things that so excited me about the city was the art everywhere.

The very first morning as we walked to the place we could buy our transit passes we came upon a huge photo mounted on a building–turned out to be part of an installation by JR, a French artist who was in town that very day having an opening at a local gallery in conjunction with the installation Wrinkles of the City that were around town. We managed to see several (but not all) of these. We also went to the gallery where we could see stills and videos made in other cities where he’s done this same project–photos of people with wrinkles mounted on buildings with wrinkles too.

The building with scaffolding is an old post office. The woman in the photo worked there and was forced by the Stasi to open correspondence for censorship between East &  West. She says this makes the building more positive for her now. The photo below it is of an old water tower (now upscale condos) in a small park.

JR1 (Small)

jr scaffold 2 (Small)

JR bend (Small)jr on water tower (Small)

This project has happened in a number of cities, Havana, Los Angeles, so it’s not what made Berlin such an art place for me. It is more the graffiti, murals, pasted on graffiti (more about that later), statutes & other public art and, of course, museums.

wall art 4 (Small)

wall art (Small)

wall art 2 (Small)

sidewalk art  chalk (Small)

street art humpty dumpty (Small)steetart profile (Small)

honoring firefighters
honoring firefighters

statute fire detail (Small)

statute  (Small)obama in the peoples army (Small)Copy (1) of wall art (Small)building art near esg (Small)

building art 2 (Small)building art 1 (Small)

building art (Small)

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of graffiti cleanup but it is illegal and if caught several times one can end up in jail but penalties are significantly lighter if you paste paper on the building as opposed to painting directly so there’s lots of that now including some artists with signature styles or even art such as the one who does bananas and another who just does words in a distinctive font.

banana 4 (Small)banana 3 (Small)

wall pasted art (Small)wall art pasted (Small)

tail on bldg (Small)poster boy group (Small)

art at platform (Small)on the river (Small)

streetart books (Small)graffiti (Small)

There’s an amazing alley with murals, kinetic sculptures by the Dead Chicken Collective, a couple of museums there as well as a coffee shop and a bookstore up a highly painted staircase

alley (Small)alley art 2 (Small)

alley art 3 (Small)alley art 4 (Small)

alley art 5 (Small)alley art 6 (Small)

alley art anne frank (Small)alley art bikes (Small)

alley art dead chickens 1 (Small)

alley art dead chickens 2 (Small)

alley art science (Small)alley bookstore (Small)

alley facebook (Small)alley flags (Small)

alley occupy (Small)alley stairs (Small)

Instead of cows that are around town painted as a fundraiser (would be interesting to know how many cities have this now) Berlin has bears

Berlin History Beatr (Small)erlin bear (Small)

There’s a large building complex in the former Jewish quarter that after reunification became an artist squat/counter culture workshop called Tacheles. (Yiddish for “straight talking) . It did not appear to still be active and Wikipedia says it was closed last fall. Probably a target of development as it’s in a very central location.

Tacheles 2 (Small)tacheles 3 (Small)

tacheles 4 (Small)tacheles 5 (Small)


Since 75% of Berlin was destroyed in WWII, there are lots of new buildings, especially in the area where the wall was since there were actually two walls–one on the actual border between West and East and another farther east so that if you tried to escape by climbing over you had to run across a no-man’s-land. That area had no buildings until after reunification. And then there are the restorations and the modifications (see another post for the Reichstag)

modern building 3 (Small)modern building (Small)

modern apt building (Small)modern   building 2 (Small)

hackescher market (Small)facade (Small)

bricks (Small)architecture 6 (Small)

architecture 5 (Small)architecture 4 (Small)

architecture 1 (Small)apt court 3 (Small)

apt court 2 (Small)apt court 1 (Small)

Construction continues. The most cranes I’ve ever seen in one place.

cranes in Berlin (Small)

There are some very interesting alternative spaces which, like Tacheles (artist squat above) were taken over during the chaos after reunification. Our very first evening we ran into one. Fortunately someone was around (he was waiting for the neighborhood Green Party meeting) and explained it a bit to us. There was a building that looked like it might have been self-built, a day care center, fire pit, playground, waffle cart, bike rental shop, garden…

alternative space playground (Small)

alternative space 1 (Small)

another great alternative space is right by the East Side Gallery (see Berlin: Jews, the Holocaust, the Stasi), soon to be lost to development. It’s a bar, a playground, a beach and much more.

yaam beach 2 (Small)yaam beach  (Small)

also some pretty great public spaces–lots of parks (had one of those culturally fascinating conversations with a young mother. we remarked how many parks and playgrounds we saw and thought it was so great. she responded that there are a lot of children)

In our neighborhood we had Kathe Kollwitz Park. Not just a statute of her but also a marvelous playground

kathe kollwitz statute (Small)Kollwitz playground (Small)

there’s also a memorial to Kathe Kollwitz with a very powerful (and large) reproductions of one of her sculptures elsewhere in town

memorial kollwitz sculpture (Small)

Amazing museums most of which do not allow photography but one of my favorites did. It was the private ME Collectors Room which had two shows. First a very eclectic selection from the Olbricht Collection called Wonderful: Humboldt, Krokodil & Polke (I think the owner’s private holdings) uniting “objects from the Renaissance and Baroque periods with works of the modern day.”  Second, Wunderkammer Olbricht, artworks  shown with “rare phenomena of nature…, scientific instruments…, objects from strange worlds…, and inexplicable items…” Here are some photos from each but perhaps my favorite was a video which I cannot post here but you can see it the trailer  here

First from Wonderful

Quell by Kate MccGwire
Quell by Kate MccGwire

Map of Truth and Beliefs by Grayson Perry

Litter by Patricia Piccinini
Litter by Patricia Piccinini
Homeostasis by Liza Lou, beaded fiberglass
Homeostasis by Liza Lou, beaded fiberglass
High Expectations by Elmgree & Dragset
High Expectations by Elmgree & Dragset
Gestas, Jesus, Dismas by George Condo
Gestas, Jesus, Dismas by George Condo
Good vs Evil chess set by Maurizio Cattelan
Good vs Evil chess set by Maurizio Cattelan
the evil side
the evil side
Chess Set by Jake & Dinos Chapman
Chess Set by Jake & Dinos Chapman
Black Supper by Andres Serra
Black Supper by Andres Serra
The Last Supper by David LaChapelle
The Last Supper by David LaChapelle
The Anxious Attempt of Art to Mourn the Silence of Melancholy Over Everything by Ged Quinn
The Anxious Attempt of Art to Mourn the Silence of Melancholy Over Everything by Ged Quinn

I only took a few photos at the second exhibit, not sure why, but here are my favorites: ivory anatomical models of pregnant women

ivory anatomical teaching model (Small)another teaching model (Small)

Only one photo from the Neue Museum National Gallery. It’s from a show about West & East during the post-war years. Surprisingly it included art from the other countries including the US and memorabilia e.g. Life magazine covers

Untitled by Lee Bontecou, American
Untitled by Lee Bontecou, American

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