Berlin's East Side Gallery

Culture

Berlin icon

It's one of Berlin's most visited locations. Numerous artists have immortalized their thoughts on German reunification on a 1.3-kilometer stretch of the Wall. Among them was Dimitri Vrubel, an unknown art student from Moscow when the East Side Gallery was created in 1990. He painted the famous brotherly kiss between the Soviet and East German heads of state, Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker.

Culture

Reminder of the victims

The East Side Gallery is located near what used to be a so-called death strip lined with watchtowers. The patrolling soldiers in that area had orders to shoot at those attempting to flee from East into West Berlin.

Culture

Protected monument

On September 28,1990 - days before official reunification on October 3 -the East Side Gallery was opened to the public. Since then, many of its paintings, printed on postcards available in souvenir shops all over Berlin, have become world famous. Among them is Thierry Noir's "Homage to the Young Generation." In November 1991, the East Side Gallery was listed as a protected historical monument.

Culture

Controversial renovation

As the Berlin Wall is exposed to wind and weather, tourists and souvenir chiselers, it needs to be repaired regularly. In October 2008, the artworks were to be completely refurbished. Some of the artists refused to so, but most agreed and a large number of the paintings could be restored.

Culture

Art flash mob

In 1990, German pop artist Jim Avignon created his painting "Doin' it cool for the East Side." In 2013, he came under fire when, together with some art students, he painted over his original painting - without official permission.

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Investor pushes through partial demolition

In 2013, parts of the East Side Gallery were displaced for the construction of high-rise apartments.The resulting gap of six meters served as an entrance to the construction site. That stirred protests - without success. Now, the residential tower has been nearly completed and 80 percent of the apartments have been sold. The construction is expected to be completed within the next half year.

Culture

Signs of time

Although some artists have already renovated their works several times, other paintings are fading or have been disfigured with graffitti. Artist Thomas Klingenstein has lamented that the outdoor gallery is in a "pitiful state." A former member of the East German opposition, he designed part of the East Side Gallery.

Culture

On the silver screen

In January 2015, the documentary "Berlin East Side Gallery" by filmmakers Karin Kaper and Dirk Szuszies was released, covering the various changes which the outdoor gallery has had to endure since its renovation in 2009. Artist Thomas Klingenstein said he hopes "that this film will help protect that special stretch of the Berlin Wall for the future."

In February 1990, 118 artists from 21 countries started painting on the Berlin Wall. By September, more than 100 murals had been created. The Berlin East Side Gallery - one of Berlin's most famous icons - had been born.