Piece of the Berlin Wall

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Piece of the Berlin Wall

I bought this fragment in Berlin in 1990. In Pariser Platz, next to the Brandenburg Gate, it was then possible to buy a range of ephemera from the East German regime: military clothing, badges, binoculars and a selection of mementos of the wall itself. I chose this image, which I bought for a few deutschmarks, not least because it came with a photograph showing its original place in the mural which had adorned the wall. As well as its obvious historical significance, I like the way in which the object demonstrates how an image can be recycled. The depiction of the face seems to owe something to ancient art, but seeing it within the whole we realize that the borrowed image was already second-hand. The style harks back to cubism and this face in particular has been taken from Picasso's painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Picasso himself took the facial style from pre-Roman Iberian sculpture he had seen in the Louvre. So we have an ancient relic transformed into early twentieth century avant-garde art, which has then been appropriated for use in a late twentieth century piece of unofficial public art. This fragment of the wall now in my possession has once more become a relic.

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Purchased 1990


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