- Words and Photos by John Domine
On the Road: Berlin, Germany
Since before the wall came down, separating East and West Germany nearly 30 years ago, graffiti has been an ever-present state of affairs in Berlin. The city is an undeniable haven for all things street art, from political posters to quickie tags to full-blown murals, featuring the likes of DFace, Shepard Fairey, Vhils and countless others, adorning structures all across the municipality.
If you keep up with Sold Magazine's "On the Road" series, you are well aware that the best way to take in all of the amazing walls is to consult the Street Art Cities app, which currently lists the addresses and background information on over 400 pieces in Berlin alone (with over 16,000 worldwide).
The following is some of what I experienced on a recent trip, which I am hoping will be useful to you, either on a visit to Germany in person or as an armchair traveler.
URBAN NATION BERLIN
Home to Urban Nation, the graffiti and street art museum opened its doors in September of this year, making Berlin a global powerhouse of all things urban art. Prior to this, Urban Nation had been curating walls in the city's outdoor spaces since 2013, "transforming Berlin's facades into a giant outdoor gallery", according to the organization's website.
For a map of all of their various projects, check here.
DFace and Shepard Fairey on this wall on Bulowstrasse
URBAN NATION WORKS IN PROGRESS
In advance of the opening of the Urban Nation Museum, there was quite a bit of painting happening in the vicinity. I had the opportunity to catch Mr. June and Snik working on their respective walls during my visit.
David June Louf (Mr. June) painting his 3-dimensional geometric patterns across from the museum
Snik working on the outside of the Urban Nation Museum on Bülowstrasse
WALLS AROUND BÜLOWSTRASSE
There is so much art to be found in the area along Bülowstrasse near the Urban Nation Museum. From pasteups to murals, there is definitely something for everyone. Here are some of the works you may come across in your exploration:
From left to right: Nils, Cranio, Ron English, Hayley Welsh, Fin Dac, Bustart, C3, Insane51, Mateus Bailon,
Lucky Rabbit, Sokar, Nasca and Kera, Nomad Clan, 1UP, James Bullough, Phlegm, Vhils,
1010, Rocket01, Shepard Fairey, Sandra Chevrier, D7606 and Manyoly.
URBAN SPREE: AN ARTIST'S PLAYGROUND
Located in the Berlin-Friedrichschain neighborhood, Urban Spree is a street art playground contained within 18,000 square feet of outdoor/indoor space. It is an area dedicated to exhibitions, artist residencies, workshops, concerts, and (in true German style) a biergarten to soak up all the beauty while enjoying a cold one or two, along with the obligatory brezn (German pretzel that goes great with beer).
While I was there, Australia's Anthony Lister (see my cringe-worthy interview here), had a solo show entitled "Sneaky Bit In" at the Urban Spree Galerie, featuring some of his more provocative works.
Elsewhere in the Urban Spree encampment, you may stumble upon works by the likes of Bordalo, Louis Masai, Bruno Smoky, and Voxx Romana, among others, all in a wonderful setting of urban decay. Be sure to wander through every nook and cranny, as you never know just what amazingness you might stumble upon.
A MEAL & SOME ART: NOT AN OXYMORON
If you are looking to grab a bite near some urban art, head to Oxymoron, a restaurant within the maze of Hackeschen Höfe, on the north side of Berlin's Hackescher Markt. Starting the day with a hearty breakfast and a pilsner to wash it down is the perfect way to begin an urban adventure, at least in my opinion.
And if its location within a beautiful courtyard just off the bustling road of Rosenthalerstrasse wasn't enough, the famed graffiti alley next to Haus Schwarzenberg is just steps away. Since the pieces morph on nearly a weekly basis as these spots generally do, you never know just what you may come across.
During my brief visit, I had the opportunity to see some old faces, like D7606 and Dede Bandaid, as well as the literal face of French artist, Gregos, in blue sculptural form, adorning the alleyway.
English Breakfast and a beer? Why Not! Anything goes at Oxymoron
Some of the pieces in the alleyway
TEUFELSBERG: A COLD WAR REMNANT
Teufelsberg, meaning "Devil's Mountain, located in Berlin's Grunewald region, served as a listening station during the Cold War. Today, situated on a hill 174 feet up on the outskirts of Berlin, the whole area is a must-see destination for all things graffiti.
For me, wandering the Teufelsberg grounds was akin to a child visiting Disneyland for the first time. I was overwhelmed by all of the pieces by artists familiar to me, as well as some stunners by newly-acquainted ones.
Welcome to Teufelsberg! Work by BustArt below one of the domes
After exploring all of Teufelsberg, on your way back into the city center, make a stop off at Bahnhof Zoologischer Garden and walk a few minutes to Hometown Berlin (which you can see from the train). When I went, it was locked up, but in true vandal fashion, a quick twist of the lock and I was in, exploring all of the carnivalesque work, such as BustArt's dismantled bus and Otto Schade's woven elephant.
BustArt Bus on the grounds of HomeTown
BERLIN, A VERITABLE URBAN ART PLAYGROUND
If you haven't figured it out yet, Berlin has quite a bit on offer for the street art enthusiast. So dig in and have a slice!
Realistic work by Marcus Haas and SizeTwo
You will need several days or more (perhaps even a lifetime) to fully explore and appreciate the city, but by taking the time to dig a bit deeper and wander off the beaten path, you will reap many rewards that will really add to your overall experience.
So, what are you waiting for? Berlin is calling.
Insane51 3-D work
More beauties to be discovered around the city
From left to right: Telmo Miel & James Bullough, Elle, Natalia Rak, The London Police, Os Gemeos, Alice Pasquini, Jimmy C., ROA, Millo, Herakut, Beastiestylez, Axel Void, Cryptik, Ron English, Francisco Bosoletti & Emmanuel Jarus