Art of Berlin

I’m behind again. I blog a lot less when it’s not raining…

I took the train from Copenhagen to Berlin where I met my new friend Hannah, who graciously hosted me for three nights on her huge air mattress. How nice to have a whole mattress to myself…and two pillows! Sleeping like a queen.

Berlin is an incredibly interesting city, so I’m going to give it two posts. This one is going to be about Berlin’s artistic side, which I encountered at every turn: graffiti, sculpture, open-air art galleries, live music, and more.

Because I’m bouncing around so quickly between cities, I have been actively seeking out local art everywhere I go. I find this to be a good way to get a sense of a city’s character, its challenges, and its uniqueness, in a short period of time. It was easy to find artwork all over Berlin, and I do feel that I felt the city through these impressions.


In Berlin, everything – everything – is graffiti-ed. A lot of it is really bad graffiti, just black or red drippy letters that don’t mean anything to me or, probably, most people. Storefronts, fences, apartment buildings – even in the nice parts of town – are covered. But some of the graffiti is beautiful, detailed, telling of a deeper artistic culture; often, images are striking, or speak to the city’s tumultuous history or its more recent shift towards unity and peace. And some of it is just cool.

Berlin Wall’s 1.3 km long East Side Gallery

Part of the Berlin Wall that still stands, covered in artwork and known as the East Side Gallery

I like this very much – particularly the addition…

Each section of the wall was painted by a different artist, and many works had been painted over – some to their detriment, some to their benefit – by other graffiti artists.

The text at the bottom reads, “My God, help me to survive this deadly love.” This image, first painted by Dimitri Vrubel in 1990, depicts communist leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing.

East Side Gallery. I really liked this portion of the wall. It was colorful and so intricate.

The lovely Hannah, and a great painting. Get human!

Imagine living in a city divided in two by a cold concrete wall…it’s hard not to feel solemn here, but also so much hope. The art helps.

Graffiti around the city

Big art.

This is strange.

I love this style of graffiti. I wish this was a better photo but there was a big fence around the yard and I was too short!

Art that covers buildings…

Bathroom at the King Kong Klub

So many colors. I have no idea what this shop is, but it’s heavily decorated by both man and leaf…

Another angle of the same storefront

A building just a short bike ride from Hannah’s flat

This reminded me that it was almost Halloween. So dark!

I came upon this building on a random side street I biked down at dusk. This is the #1 reason why I get lost on purpose…you find gems you’d never see otherwise.

Random encounters with expression

One day in Berlin, Hannah and I biked to a huge, open-air flea market. Just behind the market, we noticed a crowd gathering, and heard music and laughter and cheering. We investigated, and found that hundreds of people had come out to watch, or perform, karaoke on this sunny day in the park. Apparently, this American guy pulls out his amps and boombox every weekend and opens it to public use for several hours. It’s an extremely popular event.

Most of the people singing karaoke were German men over the age of 60. And they were really, really into it.

Germans love their Karaoke…apparently?

The much-loved karaoke host and a karaoke singer.

Another day, Hannah and I went to the King Kong Klub with some of her friends to see Voila! Group perform. This 3-person band is from Prague, and the singer is trained to sound just like Edith Piaf. She sang many Edith Piaf songs, and several original songs she’d written. She was backed by a cello and an accordian. It sounded like Edith Piaf, only with a bit of gypsy flair. It was amazing.

Voila! Group

I shot these last few photos on my last day in Berlin while biking around the city.

Massive rose

More massive roses. There were around 30 of these in a park but there was construction so I couldn’t get a good photo of them.

A bridge I biked under.

Berlin, you’re an interesting place.


3 thoughts on “Art of Berlin

  1. You may have seen my post about this already. But ROA, the artist who painted that mural of the deer (somewhere in the middle of your post), recently painted an amazing mural of African animals in Joburg. You can see a piece of it in my post: I also included a link to photos of the whole mural, which is several stories tall.

    I can’t wait to show you some of the awesome public art in Jozi.

  2. Pingback: Berlin by Bike | I Climbed That

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