Monday, September 15, 2014

Berlin Wall

Charlottesville, Virginia 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Earlier this year, four panels from the wall were installed on the grounds of the University of Virginia where they will be on display for  more than a year. The sections of the wall are on on the UVa grounds adjacent to the Alderman Library, where my wife took these pictures with her camera phone. The accompanying sign reads:

"In 1990, Robert Hefner, sensing the long-term magnitude of human change and historical enormity of the people of East and West Germany tearing down the Berlin Wall, sent a representative to Berlin to negotiate for a substantial section of the Wall. He believed a portion of the wall would be an icon of the 'power of personal freedom.' Hefner secured four complete panels of the Wall, measuring sixteen feet in length and twelve feet tall, containing two murals by the graffiti artist Dennis Kaun. Painted on the West German side are two kings: a brightly colored, joyful king, representing freedom, and a largely colorless, blindfolded king, oblivious to the needs and wishes of the people. The East German side remains dull gray cement. Hefner believes these two sides, the colorful, lively West German side and the gray East German side, artistically represent the character of freedom and enslavement.

"As Hefner says, these pieces of the Wall are a great monument to the 'power of personal freedom.' When Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, he went to Berlin in 1987 and demanded, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall," yet neither Reagan nor Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, the world's most powerful leaders, could make that happen. Instead, it was the people, exercising their free will and 'power of personal freedom,' which could and did tear down the wall and usher in a period of momentous human change with political implications still with us today.

"West German graffiti artist Dennis Kaun created his Pop Art murals on the west side of the Berlin Wall using spray paint instead of brushes. Working quickly and under the cover of the night, as it was illegal to paint on the Wall, he and an assistant took six hours over two sessions to create the murals he entitled 'Kings of Freedom." Over a period of years, Dennis Kaun became known for the unique art he created on the Berlin Wall."

The East German side of the Berlin Wall.


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