Drawing the City of Berlin at Berlinische Galerie

The exhibition at Berlinische Galerie displays a special selection of more than 175 paper-based works portraying the city of Berlin from 1945 to today.

by Heidy Weingartner

The Berlin Drawing Room team and students had the opportunity to take a guided tour through the ‘Drawing the City’ exhibition at the Berlinische Galerie. The tour was led by Sophie Vidal, one of our regular workshop participants and tour guide at the Berlinische Galerie. The tour gave us a welcome opportunity to not only see some art, but also see some of our Berlin based students face to face again, after months of online classes.

What you’ll see

The artworks are mostly drawings. From big to small, coloured to black-and-white, in very different techniques. A rich field trip experience, especially for our ‘Sketchbook Practice: Urban Landscape’ Workshop students.

Sophie Vidal sharing about Günter Horn’s works.

The exhibition is divided in 6 chapters: Dream in Ruins, Urban Biotopes, Subjective Topography, Architecture-Structure, Nature under Observation and City Population.

First impressions

Sophie starts by walking us through the works of Berlin-born artist Werner Heldt (1904-1954) who depicted the post-war ruined Berlin in black bold strokes. Heldt’s works are marked by a scarcity of materials due to the privations of war.

As our group moves forward, now around the year of 1961, works of an ideologically and physically divided city start to become a common subject. Sophie tells us that at the time a huge interest for international artists to take up residency in Berlin was put forward. Amongst them was Emilio Vedova, a prominent artist who between the years of 1964-65 painted the city’s chaotic divided reality in bold expressionist strokes.

Emilio Vedova, Berlin 6, aus: Absurdes Berliner Tagebuch ́64, 1964

On a lighter note…

The city’s physical and ideological barrier split by the 3,6m concrete wall continued to outrage and fascinate artists throughout the following decades. But its political reality was not the only theme to capture their imagination and critique. As we approached the middle to the end of the exhibition we started seeing themes such as nature, the city’s topography and architecture being portrayed.

Antonio Sauer, Die Mauer, 1984-85.

We were then bid farewell by Heike Kati Barath’s series “Nun gut, wer bist Du dann?” made up of 32 drawings portraying the Berlin folk in a humorous way, leaving us with the feeling that we have certainly encountered one of those characters in the streets of Berlin!

Heike Kati Barath, Nun gut, wer bist Du dann?, 2014

Specially curated by Annelie Lütgens, head of the Prints and Drawings department at the Berlinische Galerie, this exhibition is a great opportunity to explore one of their vast collections of drawings and prints. The drawings were composed by 22 women and 47 men who were born and/or lived in Berlin during a certain period in time. This is a unique opportunity to witness how 75 years of history have created and shaped a city. 

The exhibition runs from 14th August, 2020 to 4th January 2021. 

Every Saturday at 4.15 pm and every first Monday of the month at 3 pm public guided tours in English are given by experienced museum’s guides at the Berlinische Galerie

Address: Alte Jakobstraße 124 – 128. 10969 Berlin, Germany

Admission prices apply. 

For more info check: https://berlinischegalerie.de/en/