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Berlin Street art: an Open-air Museum
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Berlin Street art: an Open-air Museum

These magnificent murals have come to define both the local landscape and the free-spirited city’s flair for the avant-garde.

After the Wall came tumbling down, thousands of creatives from all over the E.U. and beyond poured into Berlin, lured by its free-spirited culture and affordable studio spaces. Though the city may be a bit more polished than it once was, it’s retained its bohemian vibe. The artistic community here is seldom afraid to take risks and often veers into edgier territory. Though there are hundreds of galleries around the city, many would argue that the Hauptstadt’s most impressive permanent art collection lives on the concrete walls of its buildings. Of the many, many works of street art in the city, here are a few highlights not to be missed.

JR

If you feel like you’re being watched, look up and you might just find a wizened man gazing down in disapproval. Titled “Wrinkles in the City,” this 15-mural series by French street artist JR depicts elderly Berliners in crisp black-and-white.

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Victor Ash

Still one of the largest examples of stencil work in the entire world, French artist Victor Ash’s enormous astronaut’s looms near Skalitzer Straße. The work dates back to 2003 and is one of Kreuzberg’s most iconic images.

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CASE (aka CASE Maclaim)

Situated on Flughafenstraße not far from the notorious KitKatClub, “Unter der Hand,” which depicts two overlapping hands of different races, is one of the city’s most visually striking murals. The Frankfurt-based street artist’s hyper-realistic treatment of his subject and the work’s immense scale have made it an urban icon.

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BLU

BLU, who resides in Bologna, is best-known for his disturbing, cartoonish works that often cover the sides of buildings. Sadly, the Italian street mural legend’s most famous work was painted over in 2014 as a symbolic protest against gentrification. Travellers can still view his iconic “Pink Man,” a ghoulish figure in Kreuzberg composed of thousands of tiny human forms.

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MTO

If you spot a photorealistic image of Jack Nicholson’s manic expression from The Shining or Jimi Hendrix at his peak, you have MTO to thank. The ambitious artist has spray-painted his mark all over the globe, but left a particularly intriguing body of work behind in Berlin.

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