In 2009, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I put together an exhibition of my personal collection of works created as early as 1989 from fragments of the Berlin Wall, by great international artists such as Arman, Buren, Eduardo Chillida, Ilya Kabakov, Richard Long, Robert Longo, Sol Lewitt, Takis, Erik Boulatov, Peter Klasen, and Mimmo Paladino.
The show opened in Paris in the Palais Royal Gardens, then travelled to Berlin’s Deutsches Historisches Museum and onto the Moscow Contemporary Art Centre Winzavod, for an opening on 9 November 2009 with support from the Rostropovich Foundation.
In honour of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with some thirty bare fragments of the Berlin Wall I had been preserving (probably among the last), I designed a new collection, the first to pay tribute to the emblematic artists who worked on the Wall before its fall.
Although it had been painted on by artists such as Jonathan Borofski, Richard Hambleton, or Rainer Fetting, as well as by many unknown hands as early as 1982, the Wall’s first murals were put up in 1984 by two audacious Frenchmen, Christophe Bouchet and Thierry Noir. German artists such as Peter Unsicker, Heinz J. Kuzdas, Indiano, and Kiddy Citny followed suit, along with Americans like Keith Haring and Ron English, as well as the Swiss artist Luciano Castelli. Between 1984 and 1989, these artists took part in a visual outpouring that inaugurated a new artistic movement in Berlin.
To round out this tribute, it seemed crucial to me to include the greatest international names from the Street Art movement, one of the most important currents in contemporary art. With tremendous enthusiasm, they have answered my call to join in the new “Art Liberty” collection, which celebrates art, the city, history, and freedom.
To offer culture to the masses: such is Michel Seydoux's (President of LOSC - Lille Olympic Sporting Club) ambitious bet to give free access to this exhibition to the diverse football audiences.
The exhibition will take place in the Domaine de Luchin, magnificently restaured by LOSC which has made it its training and education center since 2007.
Initially composed of 30 works, the lively "Art Liberté" collection grows for the occasion. - On a single Wall fragment, two artists celebrate icons of pop music. Internationally acclaimed and Lille native Jef Aérosol depicts David Bowie with his then inseparable friend Iggy Pop during their Berlin years, while famous Australian artist JimmyC celebrates Lou Reed. - LOSC has also acquired an imposing fragment of the Wall upon which C215, famous around the world for the quality of his stencils, pays tribute to Eden Hazard, a well known Belgian football player trained at LOSC. Thierry Noir, the emblematic Wall artist gives us one of his colorful heads dedicated to future generations. – Two walls in the training center will also be painted: one by the three unavoidable painters of the Berlin Wall - Kiddy Citny, Christophe-Emmanuel Bouchet and Thierry Noir- and the other by two Street artists of great renown - Brazilian born L7m and JimmyC from Australia.
The original fresco (13 m x 3 m) made by L7m rue d'Alsace in Paris on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall will be on display.
Historical photographs of Heinz J. Kuzdas, a painter of the Wall, will witness to the existence of works executed on the Wall before its fall and show that these endlessly ephemeral works only lasted until they were covered by new ones.
Finally, three Trabants, the emblematic cars of East Germany, have been specially painted for the exhibit by the Berlin Wall’s most storied artists, Thierry Noir, Christophe-Emmanuel Bouchet, and Kiddy Citny. They will be displayed alongside the collection’s.
The metal structures holding the works were designed by American sculptor Adam Steiner.
Two films will be shown within the exhibit. The first one, produced by Deutsche Welle TV, focuses on the historic past, from the construction of the Berlin wall, to its security apparatus, to its fall and the popular outpouring of joy that accompanied it.
The second, titled Ephemera, was created especially for this show, and presents works executed on the Wall before its fall using the photographic archives of Berlin painter and photographer Heinz J. Kuzdas, who narrates the film alongside the Berlin wall’s most notable artists, Berlin Thierry Noir, Christophe-Emmanuel Bouchet, and Kiddy Citny. The film also premieres a highly provocative happening by the painter Christophe-Emmanuel Bouchet, who, in 1987, after creating the first murals on the Western side of the wall with Thierry Noir, painted on its Eastern side for the first time in history – two full years before it came down!
Visitors can use their mobile phones to capture QR codes associated with each artwork in the collection, which will present a video of the work’s creation and an interview with the artist in either French or English.
This unique collection draws the visitor from the Berlin Wall to the very cutting edge of contemporary street art. Just as Mstislav Rostropovitch had done it by playing Jean-Sébastien Bach the day after the fall of the Wall, the collection shows that wherever it may be, a wall cannot lock up culture.
Sylvestre Verger - Curator