Berlin—Critic and curator Emilie Trice writes, “Berlin is the graffiti mecca of the urban art world.” And a recent New York Times article confirms Trice’s assertion with the observation that “The city’s skyline might be defined by a Sputnik-era TV tower, bombed-out churches and the ghost of a certain wall that once split the German capital. But its streetscape is largely molded by graffiti.”
It is therefore unsurprising that the city’s art landscape includes a number of galleries exclusively showing street art. Overkill Shop, Circle Culture, and Intoxicated Demons are a few choice examples of galleries specializing in bringing street art inside. And recent super-successful shows by celebrated local street artists such as EVOL and Jaybo Aka Monk demonstrate the commercial viability of street art for international collectors.
A graffiti guide
But for everyone interested in just appreciating the work in its natural habitat, there is a new book by graphic designer Benjamin Wolbergs, “Urban Illustration Berlin: Street Art Cityguide.” The book makes the perfect guide for a walking tour through Berlin’s outdoor street art scene.
Written in both German and English, the book offers exclusive interviews with seventeen of the elusive artists. Wolbergs does not limit his focus to spray paint. Instead, he gives attention to the rich range of stencils, cutouts, markers and wheatpaste works across the city.
Wolbergs’ stunning street photography in “Urban Illustration Berlin: Street Art Cityguide,” along with the interviews’ insight into the artists’ working techniques, motives, and philosophies on street art, make the book a valuable purchase, regardless of whether one is planning a visit to Berlin.
A self-guided graffiti walking tour
However, the book’s real treasure is a tear-out city map detailing the locations of 500 iconic and admired instances of Berlin’s street art featured in the book. Tear it out and take yourself on a walking tour.
Street art is fragile. And a few of the works Wolbergs spotlighted no longer exist. But the neighborhoods remain active areas for street artists and well worth visiting for anyone interested in the origins of Berlin’s vibrant international art scene.