Exploring the East Side Gallery: Art and History in Berlin

Authored by:
Lucia H.

Lucia H.

Earlier this week I visited the East Side Gallery, which is a large section of the Berlin wall that has been covered in beautiful works of graffiti art. The East Side Gallery, which stretches 1.3 kilometers along the river Spree, is actually the longest open-air gallery in the world! Almost immediately after the Berlin wall fell in 1989, 118 artists from 21 different countries began creating the painted section which we now know as The East Side Gallery. The world-famous art gallery officially opened in September 1990 and ended up receiving protective memorial status less than a year later. For the most part, everything has stayed the same as when it was first painted, which absolutely amazes me. There have only been two restoration projects over the past 28 years, in 2000 and 2009, to repaint some of the original designs that had deteriorated due to harsh weather and vandalism. Most of the paintings were redone, with more durable paints, by the original artists in order to maintain their integrity. 

The majority of the murals are related to the social and political events surrounding the fall of the Berlin wall in the late eighties. The most famous and recognizable example is the Fraternal Kiss: a portrait of Soviet politician Leonid Brezhnev and German politician Erich Honecker locked in a fierce kiss, with the words, “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love” written in German. Inspired by a photo of these men during the 30th-anniversary celebration of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic, the fiercely satirical painting took the world by storm and has since been reproduced everywhere and sparked many similar designs.

I absolutely loved the East Side Gallery and all of its paintings, from simple and somber to almost psychedelic. I encourage you to take a few minutes and scroll through the pictures in this post's gallery which I have included from my visit. The longer I look the more I see!

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