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Art Scene in Berlin

By Sean Mahon

Posted: 14th April 2014 15:25

As one of the most important historical locations of the 20th century Berlin has inherited a culture and art scene which reflects that past. Art has taken many different forms in Berlin, and you do not even have to step foot inside a museum or gallery, just head to the streets, in particular the famous Berlin wall – you cannot escape the bohemian atmosphere which has manifested itself into turning the streets of Berlin into a huge urban canvas.

East Side Gallery

A 1.3km section of the Berlin Wall which has been turned into a huge artistic monument, it is the largest open air gallery in the world and has been covered with more than 100 murals by 118 artists from 21 different countries. The artists commented on the political events that took place in 1989 and 1990 with powerful reminders of the regime.

The drawings also reflect the turbulent German history, with many bearing the slogans of peace and hope. One of the most iconic paintings is "Der Bruderkuss" by Dmitri Vrubel, which shows the fraternal kiss between former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German Prime Minister Eric Honecker. Disappointingly, big sections of the wall have been damaged by erosion, graffiti, and senseless trophy hunters, who chip off little pieces to bring home as a souvenir without so much of a thought as to what they are doing. Restoration took place to recover this damage in 2009 but some graffiti has appeared once more.


Like many aspects of Berlin, the gallery scene is diverse and varied. One minute you can be meandering around a leafy boulevard which is home to a distinguished and reputable establishment and the next in the hip quarter of Mitte taking a look at a hub dedicated to the flourishing Berlin punk scene.

There are more than 400 galleries spread across the city and there are always some fantastic shows going on somewhere. There is actually no designated gallery quarter, but you’ll find concentrations of them on Auguststrasse in Mitte in northern Mitte; and around Checkpoint Charlie on Zimmerstrasse, Kochstrasse, Charlottenstrasse and, a bit further east, on Lindenstrasse.

Art Museums

With a rich heritage of art, there are plenty of museums for you to go and appreciate this cultural landscape in. Rembrandts can be found at the Gemäldegalerie, while there is an excellent collection of German expressionist works at the Neue Nationalgalerie. The up and coming space for contemporary art is the Hamburger Bahnhof, Picasso lovers can often be found at the Museum Berggruen and Caspar David Friedrich gets quite a bit of play at the Alte Nationalgalerie. Art created in 20th-century Berlin is the focus of the Berlinische Galerie, while at the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg, the spotlight is on surrealist works.

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