Berlin’s most significant Street Art
Berlin has become synonymous with street art. In fact graffiti art may well be the signature of Berlin’s rebellious cultural history, with Berlin street murals everywhere.
From politically charged messages, to commissioned street murals and hastily scrawled “tags”, Berlin has been dubbed “the most tagged city in Europe”. Every every surface is painted, scrawled, tagged or “pasted up”.
The Lonely Planet Berlin Travel Guide available on Amazon may be useful when planning your trip to Berlin
Berlin’s Graffiti culture
During our visit we witnessed the half-life of a blank wall. A newly painted building nearby was covered with graffiti overnight. It is a culture Berlin embraces.
Throughout Berlin you will find tiny artworks made of pasted on paper, smaller wall murals and large intricate designs covering the facades of multi storey buildings.
Street Art is everywhere. Berliners love their stickers, which are also pasted on every surface. Cork “yogi’s” – corks sculpted into yoga positions hang from lamp posts and street signs all over the city.
Beneath the layers of graffiti, you can however see the influence of the artistic community who flocked to Berlin post-unification. Our daughter Ally, is one such artist who has made Berlin home. We were fortunate to have her guide us through some of Berlin’s most significant street art on one of her Street Art Tours.
Haus Schwarzenberg Murals
Haus Schwarzenberg Alley is located off Rosenthaler Strasse in Berlin”s Mitte District.
Historically the Old Jewish quarters, Otto Weidt once ran a disabled workshop in the Alley and was part of the resistance during the Holocaust.
Today you will find a museum in his honour, an Anne Frank museum, art exhibitions and changing street art displays.
The courtyard area now provides a creative space for up and coming artists to freely express their creativity, with a co-operative established to encourage artists.
East Side Gallery Murals
East Side Gallery would be the Berlin’s most famous and significant example of street art. While ‘the wall’ was still falling in 1989, over 100 artists from around the world flocked to Berlin, beginning work on a 1.3 kilometre stretch of the former Eastern wall.
Murals proclaimed messages of change, including the old East German “Trabi” motor car crashing through the wall, and Dimitri Vrubel’s famous “Fraternal Kiss”, an accurate copy of a 1979 press photo of an embrace between East German leader Honecker and Soviet leader, Bezhnev.
Within 12 months the East Side Gallery had gained cultural heritage status. Today the Friederichshain section of the wall remains the longest open air gallery in the world.
In typical Berlin style, graffiti artists continue to add to the murals. In order to protect the artworks, fences have been erected. Plaques along the gallery tell you about the artworks and the artist .
Street art in Friedrichshain
While in the area, take the opportunity to visit the street art in Friedrichshain.
Where once the graffiti was politically driven, it is now the push against the gentrification of the once dilapidated area of East Berlin.
Don’t forget to look out for the “cork yogis”, cork figurines striking yoga poses hanging from lamp posts and street signs.
Graffiti in Kreuzberg
Nearby Kreuzberg is a cultural melting pot, with the diverse background echoed through the graffiti.
Take a walk down Marianstrasse and you will find works such as Victor Ash’s “astronaut”. Famous street artist Blu blacked out his reknowed work “The Mural Legend” in 2014 to prevent developers profiting from the fame of his artwork.
Graffiti artist Blu “blacked out” his famous Kreuzberg mural in 2014 to prevent developers from profiting from his artwork. Fortunately our daughter captured the image above a few weeks earlier.
Teufelsberg Street Art Gallery
Hidden in the Gruneweld forest at Teufelsberg, the former US Spy station has been transformed into a cultural art space.
Since the station was abandoned at the end of the cold war, the derelict buildings became a blank canvas for graffiti artists.
The half hour hike from the Grunewald S Bahn is well worth the effort for the art, history and views.
Climbing the stairwell to the radar domes on the roof, every surface is covered in graffiti and artwork. Here you will find floor after floor of street art and graffiti displays, not unlike a contemporary art gallery. The exception being that for many decades the exhibition was neither sanctioned nor curated.
The current owners are redeveloping the site as a cultural space where for a nominal fee visitors can come and ‘chill’ amongst the artwork.
Street artists can book a space to come along and add their creativity to what is one of the largest street art galleries in Berlin.
Unlike traditional artworks, street art is very transient. What you admire today may be sprayed over, removed or replaced tomorrow.