Berlin Street Art – An Alternative Experience
The capital of Germany is definitely a city where art, talent and creativity can thrive. The city’s inhabitants and ruling family have always had an interest in attracting talented and knowledgeable minds from all over Europe, enjoying by their side their creations or advanced philosophical ideas.
That is why Berlin is still famous for its museums, art collections, concert halls, dance academies, start-up hubs and many other institutions or establishments that support creativity.
But besides the classical side of Berlin’s art, there is another non-conventional way of expression that has grown rapidly after the ‘60s and now has earned its place into the city’s artistic landscape – the Street Art.
The beginnings of Berlin street art
Humanity always felt the need of expressing themselves even from prehistoric times. But with the evolution of civilization, creation of art especially in urban areas became more organized and linked to wealthy patrons. This perception has changed with the emancipation of the lower classes, but access to materials was not easy.
The street art as we can see it today has more recent roots, from the working classes or marginalized inhabitants of big cities in U.S., U.K. or Berlin, which have found blank canvas in their grey neighborhoods and had a strong need to make themselves seen and heard this way.
East Berlin – a perfect canvas
Berlin’s dark history is perhaps the main contributor to the development of Berlin’s street art. The division of East and West Berlin and the wall raised by the eastern communist authorities have led to also a social and economical division that generated powerful negative emotions. However, the East Berliners had no way to openly express these emotions without serious repercussions. This also contributed to the need of secretly finding ways to publicly expose strong messages without getting caught by authorities.
Also, due to the severe bombing and destruction of the Second World War, East Berlin had and still has plenty of walls and abandoned areas that became an ideal place for incognito street artists to meet and expose their creations.
Masterpieces with a message
Although they can seem messy at first and without an obvious purpose, the majority of the street art creations in Berlin have a deeper meaning, related to the very struggle or aspirations of the artists.
Graffiti is the most widely spread form of street art in Berlin, but urban creativity can also be expressed through collage, painting, carving or anything that can reveal a personal expression. The need of creating this art as fast as possible has led to the development of new methods, especially new fonts and styles in Graffiti. Famous street artist have become in time so specialized in their work that they are now able to create true masterpieces.
An International artist community
Berlin is known as a city of young spirit, creativity and culture, still attracting artists from all over the world. Street art makes no exception. During our cultural tour we have met or heard stories about many talented artists that came from New York, Australia, Russia and many other countries to leave their mark in Berlin. This gives the local community a truly diverse sense of art, promoting inclusion and freedom of expression.
Best way to discover Berlin’s street art
To have the best experience and to also get valuables insights we really recommend joining an organized tour to explore the street art of Berlin.
There are more options for tours and they offer slightly different itineraries or content. We chose one provided by Alternative Berlin Tours, because it also included a graffiti workshop.
Our tour started with a very interesting walk in areas where street art masterpieces can be found. We learned about the background and evolution of street art, artists, as well as many stories.
After the walk, we went to another part of the city, where a large warehouse building had been transformed into an artistic workshop.
This second part of the tour was actually an interactive lesson on how to create graffiti art on canvas. We were also able to keep our graffiti canvas as a souvenir.
Overall the day was very interesting, opening new perspectives, showing us an alternative soul of Berlin, through the eyes of street artists, and we really recommend it.