Berlin Wall Art
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Berlin Wall. For 28 years, the stark cement blocks of the notorious Berlin Wall reminded Germans and travelers to Germany that they were on the front lines of the Cold War. As the post-war western city rebuilt into its cement cage, the traumatized population began to express their anger and humor in paint.
What started out as graffiti on an architectural scar grew into extended visual commentaries on a divided nation caught up in the ultimate ideological battle. And then, in 1989, that battle ended. As Germans rushed to tear down their symbol of division, some realized a work of art was being destroyed as well – and that at least part of it was worth saving.
Thirty-two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, little remains of the original 155-kilometer construction. The longest surviving stretch is The East Side Gallery, a portion of the wall running along the Spree River which has been covered over the years with ever-shifting, ever-evolving murals. In 2003, we began photographing that stretch, documenting our favorite works. Many of the murals shown in the gallery below have now vanished or have been altered. For us, these are street-art treasures closely tied to our many years in Berlin. Yes, a bit of beauty and social commentary has arisen from one of the world’s most notorious symbols of division.