HISTORICAL MURALS OF BERLIN, 1965-1989


In the 1970s, the graffiti scene, inspired by the burgeoning hip-hop movement, finally developed in the New York underground. Within a few months it became a gigantic wave that spilled over to Europe. The punks and hip-hop took streetart to their strongholds of London and Amsterdam, from where they arrived in West-Berlin.

View on newly erected houses at Stalinallee, Berlin-Friedrichshain, 1963

Wall frieze by Walter Womacka
House of the Teacher, Berlin-Mitte, 1965

Also in East-Berlin there were forms of street art, however, the artists were severely restricted in their freedom and had to be in strict compliance with mandated socialist realism as to be seen here on the wall frieze by Walter Womacka from the 1960s. Political slogans were also painted on houses and walls of East-Berlin but usually immediately removed by state security. The Berlin Wall initially only presents itself as a huge screen in West-Berlin, onto which political slogans, murals and later graffiti are painted and sprayed from the 1970s.


The dividing Wall of Berlin, 1961-1989

Wall frieze by Walter Womacka
House of the Teacher, Berlin-Mitte, 1965

In its beginnings streetart found many advocates. The Second World War had left many traces in Berlin in the form of firewalls and bomb blanks, which could be concealed by the murals. The politicians promoted the street art projects in West-Berlin with design programs and competitions like Kunst am Bau. Numerous artists brought different styles and techniques with them, the goal was an active intervention in the cityscape.

Ben Wagin, “World Tree”
Berlin-Tiergarten, 1977/2018

It all started with a moaning tree being surrounded by violent car exhausts. The environmental work Weltbaum (World Tree) by Ben Wagin was the first big mural realized at the Western part of Berlin in 1977. Due to construction works it can no longer be seen at its original place. Therefore, it was painted and reconstructed again in May 2018 at a suitable building in Lehrter Str.

Gert Neuhaus, “Zipper”
Berlin-Charlottenburg, 1979

Marilyn Green, Rainer Warzecha and Christoph Böhm
“Model Germany”, Berlin-Kreuzberg, 1981

Political slogans painted or sprayed on house walls have always been part of political movements, not only since the West-German squatter movement of the 1970s and 1980s, which makes intensive use of this means of expression. The squatter movement was especially strong and active in West-Berlin where many houses were unused, empty or in very bad condition.

House ruin at Winterfeldplatz
Berlin-Schöneberg, 1981

Mural on a squatted house
KuKuck, Berlin-Kreuzberg, 1982

The works created in West-Berlin in the 1970s and lateron by the squatter movement of the 1980s often had a political message – such as the “World Tree” by Ben Wagin or the now-defunct Mural “Model Germany” by Marilyn Green, Rainer Warzecha and Christoph Böhm. Illusion painting was also very popular. One example is the still existing gable “Zipper” by the artist Gert Neuhaus.

Sigurd Wendland, “Potsdamer Str. 1945”
WW II bunker, Berlin-Schöneberg, 1983

Harald Juch, “Chernobyl Disaster”
Berlin-Schöneberg, 1986

View on Kurfürstendamm
Berlin-Charlottenburg, 1987

Gert Neuhaus, “Phoenix”
Berlin-Charlottenburg, 1989

Illegal underground art existed by mutual agreement in addition to commissioned works, which were mostly awarded by housing associations. Sometimes the works also overlapped, often disappearing again. With the big political transitions starting in late 1989 a lot has changed in Berlin also in regard of urban art, but that’s still like that till today!

 

 

 

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suburban tracks

I like travelling through the diverse realities and cultures of this world not only as a tourist. Nature, history of ancient sites or creative works are fascinating me however also abandoned places or ordinary things can be just magical and amazing. The multiple aspects and rich diversity of our blue planet need to be however nourished and protected. Please be so kind to respect that all texts, graphics or photos in this blog are protected by copyright. Unless otherwise mentioned by naming the individuali author, creator, designer or photographer all copyrights hold by suburban tracks. This is moreover an AWARD FREE BLOG! Thank you in advance for appreciation and kind understanding. COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED IN GERMAN, FRENCH OR ENGLISH!

11 thoughts on “HISTORICAL MURALS OF BERLIN, 1965-1989”

    1. In den 70er und 80er Jahren entstanden Hunderte von Wandbildern in West-Berlin. Die meisten davon sind verschwunden oder übermalt oder verbaut. Die hier gezeigten Bilder von B. Wagin, G. Niehaus sowie W. Womacka auch heute noch zu sehen, nicht selbstverständlich in unserer schnellebigen Zeit. Einen schönen Tag! 🙂 Ulli

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  1. Very interesting post. A great history lesson. Loved your photos. Street art is done by people which I feel are true artists with much talent. Often this art is not appreciated, but I feel it is very interesting. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The art of painting on walls can be traced back to 38,800 BC when our ancestors decorated the walls of a mysterious cave at La Castillo in Spain. It is a very good development that art found a route back to our daily life in streets and at public places or in ruins as well. Have a nice day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I hadn’t seen it. Don’t know why. It also sheds interesting light on some of the roots of street art. And indeed, this summer in Paris, I saw many differences between “French street art” and what I can see in Latin America or elsewhere in posts like yours. Viel dank.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In fact hundreds of murals from the 70s and 80s are simply vanished here in Berlin, such is life. But the big ocean vessel by Gert Niehaus still to be found at its old place like many of his other facade works downtown. In fact, today the urban works are very much different, because there are so many creative people here from other countries including Latin America. Cheers.

      Liked by 1 person

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