Whether it’s the wall of a gallery or museum, or even the stoic remnants of the infamous Berlin Wall, art is ubiquitous on the enclosed structures of Berlin. Edgy urban graffiti and murals, classic, abstract, vulgar, funny; you name it, Berlin’s got it.
Below are three of the best spots that cover all the bases for your Berlin art experience.
East Side Gallery
The Berlin Wall is a story loaded with symbolism, and the remaining structure serves as a haunting reminder of man’s capacity to be so devastating, yet so compassionate. We divide and oppress, yet can come together under the banner of freedom and love. It’s a complex notion, but that’s life, and the 105 paintings, which stretch across this 1.3 km section of the Berlin Wall, beautifully capture this complicated aspect of the human condition.
The East Side Gallery is seen as possibly one of the largest and longest-standing open air galleries in the world. Despite this feat, investors seemed hell-bent on tearing down a section of the gallery to make way for apartments. This led to somewhat comic, paradoxical scenes where Berliners protested to keep the Berlin Wall up! And, with a little help from David Hasselhoff, they managed to succeed. It’s a must-see monument of art for anyone visiting Berlin who knows anything about the famed city’s dark history.
One of the most appealing things about Berlin is how it is a city in a constant state of flux. It’s an urban sprawl made up of contradictions, which altogether create what is a unique capital city, where everyone is free to be whatever they want to be. That might explain how the city ends up with grubby and grey districts, where urban art rules, right next to upmarket areas where conventional galleries reign king.
One such place with a vast array of beautiful galleries is Kurfürstendamm, the chic West Berlin street full of expensive shops and exclusive art spaces.
Of the myriad venues on offer, LUMAS Gallery first springs to mind, where you can find contemporary photography from a range of disciplines and styles.
The space represents Berlin’s ability to make art democratic and simultaneously representing high-quality photos for sale at affordable prices. The other great thing about LUMAS is that you can also catch their exquisite artworks from their online collection – as we all know that bringing a large and framed print on a plane is not the brightest idea!
The spray-painted streets
Art critic Emilie Trice once labelled Berlin “the graffiti Mecca of the urban art world.” It’s difficult to disagree with her, after a few days spent wandering around the city’s kaleidoscope streets. Some of the best and most promising folks in the urban, underground art scene have left their mark on the walls of Berlin, from Banksy, Blu, Axel Void, and many more.
If that whets your appetite, then Alternative Berlin’s Graffiti workshop and street art tour is the perfect way to lift the lid on Berlin’s street art history and secrets.
Art is just one side of Berlin, but there’s so much more to do than witness the wonderful works created by all kinds of artists and free-thinkers. Click here for 50 unique and unforgettable must-dos in the German capital.