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After reading Nicole Spiegel-Gotsch’s article on Graffiti Art and most recently traveling to Berlin I really started to think about graffiti – is it street art or is it a crime? Some graffiti artists are in jail whilst their work is exhibited in a gallery. How does that make any sense?

There is a lot of Graffiti in Berlin and to be honest it is pretty amazing. In the 1980s political slogans and general comments on the current situation of Germany were sprayed on the wall, it was a way for people to express their feelings during a very difficult political period.

In 1989 it was announced that the people of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) were allowed to cross into West Berlin and it was in 1990 that 118 artists from 21 different countries got together and created the East Side Gallery (a 1.3km section of the wall from MühlenStraβe to the Oberbaum Bridge). The East Side Gallery is now one of the only existing pieces of the wall. Whilst the story around the Berlin Wall is very depressing, this stretch of the wall has been transformed into a gallery of featured works by different artists who each express their feelings of the events that took place at this time.

However, not much effort was put into stopping the East Side Gallery from deteriorating. This was the case up until 2009 when the restoration of the wall was completed. Before this disrespectful members of the public destroyed a lot of the wall. Below you can see a photo of the East Side Gallery in 2007/2008 and another of what it now looks like today:

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It’s quite shocking given the history of Berlin why people would graffiti over pieces of art that have such meaning. Despite the message asking people to respect the historic art, the wall prior to 2009 was full of graffiti:

Found on


The above examples highlight the negative aspect of graffiti, where disrespectful individuals seemed to think it was okay to ruin not only amazing pieces of art but also a historical landmark. Here are a few more images of the East Berlin Gallery that I took on my trip. The restoration of the wall in 2009 eradicated the graffiti that had ruined the gallery:







In Germany graffiti is regarded as a major component of Berlin Street Culture (Berliner Strassenkultur). Some see it as “street art” but it doesn’t appeal to everyone. It’s probably not really legal but it definitely attracts the tourists.

Below are a few photos taken during my time in Berlin. You will see quite a bit of graffiti on the lower levels of the walls (where they could reach!). Crime or art? It’s a difficult one. In some cases it is a blatant crime but in others it can only be described as graffiti art. When I asked a few people in Berlin whether it was legal or not, nobody knew. Who knows maybe in years to come “street art” will become a social movement?