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From Wall to Canvas


During the 1980s a small number of East Germans crossed the border between East and West Berlin – and what was the first sight they were met by? As far as they could see, layer upon layer of colourful artwork covering every inch of the Wall that separated the two halves of the city.

After the collapse of the Berlin Wall, graffiti artists from West Berlin marched straight into East Germany. Former areas of military occupation – Mitte, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg – became a new playground for Western artists and a new world for the Eastern artists who joined them.

The street art movement continued to develop after the border was opened. Spontaneous forms of artistic expression started developing in the city, and one of the most significant mural projects was initiated on the remains of the Wall’s construction. In 1990, artists from all over the world were invited to paint on the Wall’s empty east side, celebrating reunification and expressing hopes for a brighter future. The remains of the Wall, covered in over one hundred murals, became known as the East Side Gallery, an impressive memorial to world peace.

Few doubted that the work being produced by citizens of the former East Germany was amongst the weightiest. It wasn’t that they were better artists necessarily, but they could express with authority the concept close to the hearts of all people living in the now-united city: what it meant to be free.

The freedom to express yourself and bring people together through colourful art is something that has inspired us and we have incorporated this into the collection. Walking the streets of Berlin and looking around at the beautiful art, you know that they are once again a united society who enjoy their freedom and the new beginning they were offered in November of 1989.