Books in the Martha Cooper Library: Ralf Gründer, Verboten: Berliner Mauerkunst, 2007

  • by BLITZ EN

The Berlin Wall, erected by the GDR on August 13, 1961, separated today’s capital Berlin into East and West for almost 30 years. From 1975 until November 9, 1989, the so-called “anti-fascist protective wall” consisted of the 3.60m high and 1.20m wide wall segments that are still common today and were bordered by a concrete tube at the top.

Although the Wall stood on GDR soil and thus some meters on the west side were officially East territory, the border was controlled by soldiers only on the east side. This fact encouraged some political activists in the first years to write their comments, accusations and messages with spray can and brush on the wall from the west. Tourists also took advantage of the open spaces and applied commemorative graffiti and political slogans. Since this was not punished from the west side and not painted over from the east side, the border wall around 1980 showed a patchwork of individual traces of its visitors, who mainly left slogan graffiti on it.

Ralf Gründer’s “Berliner Mauerkunst” focuses on the following years, in which local and international artists such as Christophe Bouchet, Theirry Noir, Indiano, Kiddy Citny, Richard Hambleton, and Keith Haring discovered the wall as their canvas. Unlike many photo volumes on the Berlin Wall, the book does not present the images of one photographer. Instead, Gründer compiles archives of diverse Wall photographers of the 1980s, classifies them, and provides comprehensive background information on the works. The author also researched archival material from action artists, musicians, and filmmakers in order to trace in as much detail as possible which Wall art was created where and when on the West Side. In terms of scope, completeness, and information density, the book is probably the most comprehensive work on art on the Berlin Wall.

You can find more literature on the Berlin Wall in our catalog.

Photos: Steffen Köhler     Text: Sascha Blasche