Berlin Graffiti: Faces of Humanity

Berlin Street Art Mosaic - Germany
Faces of Humanity, a Berlin street art mosaic.

Old, young, black, white, yellow, happy, sad, scared. We’re all people.

Perhaps nothing expresses this better than the graffiti street art wrapping the ground floor of an apartment complex we stumbled upon near Berlin’s Hallesches Tor.

Given our experience visiting Berlin over the last decade, this collection of images strikes as us a suitable testament to the city’s human spirit and ethnic contours.

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  1. says

    Wow. One of my memories of Berlin is just the sheer amount of graffiti there was everywhere. It seems to be a part of the youth culture. None of it looked quite as sophisticated as the work in your photos though. They’re beautiful.

  2. says

    Nice collection! All over town or in a particular section?
    and have they redone the Wall yet? The graffiti had deteriorated when we were there (2009) and they told us they were going to commission new works!

  3. says

    @Julia: Berlin has a phenomenal collection of graffiti, for sure. But this was a surprise — sophisticated, and as far as I can tell, not especially celebrated as an exceptional work of art. We thought it was.

    @Margaret: The images in our mosaic were all taken from the outside ground floor walls of a single apartment building/complex.

    As for the Wall being redone, is there a particular section you’d heard about? There are no shortage of Wall fragment exhibitions. It’s difficult to keep track.

    @Stephanie: We too are big fans of street art from around the world, particularly the uncommissioned (yet tasteful) variety. Here are few more bits from our graffiti street art collection:

  4. says

    Beautiful graffiti or should I say street art! I am really getting into the street art scene and I am building an album of pieces I have found in Mexico and Central America. I will definitely tweet this one up. I think that many people are unaware of how much talent can be found in the darkest corners of every city around the world. What’s even more interesting is that sometimes we pass a particular place more than once a day but never really notice the subtle work of many talented artists.

  5. says

    I am such a fan of graffiti, it’s a free-form art that always seems improvised and joyously untied to convention. You’ve captured some evocative, rich images! As usual, people can be the most fascinating subjects.

  6. says

    @Joel: When you live in a place, sometimes you forget to look around you and appreciate the street art in that city. We were showing these photos to some friends tonight who have lived in Berlin for years and they didn’t know of this apartment building with all of these beautiful paintings. But, now they are on the look out for them.

    @Nomadic Chick: You are right in that people are usually the most fascinating subjects. With this apartment building and all of these paintings, we were really impressed by the sophistication of the facial expressions and emotions. As the apartment building was part of social housing (i.e., for recent immigrants and/or lower income citizens) the paintings seemed to reflect the hopes and fears of the building.

  7. says

    Beautiful images, guys. My pics didn’t look that good. I saw these on a brilliant walking tour I did on ‘Alternative Berlin’, which I’d highly recommend to you that visits the building and the now-famous paintings of the inhabitants of the building above. This is my review here:

    They also do a fabulous stenciling workshop although unfortunately I had to cancel at the last minute cause I was too busy. Let me know if you do that. I’d love to know how you find it.

    To answer Margaret’s question: yes, they apparently have touched up the murals on the East Side Gallery of the Wall, which is what I’m guessing you’re talking about. Take a look here and see if you think they look brighter:

  8. says

    @Lara: We have a collection of close to 20 photos of the faces at this apartment building – was difficult to choose only nine for the mosaic! We actually stumbled upon this place by chance when we were rushing to see a free jazz concert at the Jewish museum. As we were late already for the concert, we decided to return afterwards. We were really impressed by the quality of the painting and facial expressions.

    It was fun to see the images in your Alternative Berlin post. We lived in Kreuzberg last year for a couple of months, so used to see the astronaut and 3-D flower on a regular basis.

    Thanks for the recommendation for the Alternative Berlin tour. We’ve been put in touch with a similar type tour from Visit Berlin, but haven’t yet taken it yet.

    Also fun to see the new images at East Side Gallery. Last time I was there was 2002. Do you know if the Trabant is still there?

  9. Sutapa Chattopadhyay says

    Philadelphia also has beautiful grafitti. On my way to a suburb of Philly (Swarthmore college, Swarthmore, PA), I always noticed a building whose entire side has grafitti art. Also Jersey City and NYC as well.

    But this one is beautiful!!

  10. says

    @Vira: Thank you!

    @Sutapa: Didn’t realize Philadelphia also has beautiful graffiti – we’ll have to keep our eyes open more on our next visit to the city. Perhaps street art is getting more recognition or acceptance in the States? On our last visit to San Francisco, we were also surprised by the quality of graffiti art on the side of buildings – many of the paintings were new from when we used to live there.

  11. catarina says

    I already visited that gallery its amazing, specially because of the gold. Those portraits were painting to bring light and life to those dark and dangerous places. Thanks to that, that spot its no longer a dangerous place and kids actually play in there, its very interesting. Id love to know the name of the artist, can you guys tell me?

  12. says

    @catarina: Thank you for your comment. It’s especially interesting to hear how the graffiti gallery, the building and that area around Hallesches Tor has evolved over the last decade or two. It really is a beautiful and special place, no less because of its limited light and obscurity.

    Unfortunately, we’ve done quite a bit of research and have not been able to find out who the artist is. Maybe one of these days, we’ll be lucky enough to get a commenter to tell us!

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