In very timely fashion, I saw this mosaic on a wall adjoining the Olympia Stützpunkt (‘Olympic Base’, badly translated), whilst out walking by Lake Templin in Potsdam a few weeks ago. Formerly a training centre for top GDR sportspeople, the Stützpunkt continues to serve as a hothouse for elite rowers/swimmers/etc, as well as sporting soldiers. As you might expect from its name, the OSP has produced a number Olympic champions.
The mosaic is pretty amateurish (not to mention chaotic) for a GDR-era public artwork, which means it probably wasn’t an official, state-sanctioned commission. In fact, I’ve no proof that it’s actually East German, but am assuming that it is, based on the fact that the mosaic is a. in a state of disrepair, b. attached to a wall, which by local standards, qualifies as ancient (i.e. it’s more than two decades old), and c. located on a site located in the former East. Decrepit + old (but not too old) + situated in the former East = East German. It’s a simple equasion I have applied to many an artwork round these parts, when I can’t find any information about them. Nothing like a bit of dilettante art history, eh?
I’m guessing that the man depicted in the terracota frieze is someone from German sporting history, like the father of gymnastics Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (although he, ahem, ‘sported’ a curly beard). I think he’s unlikely to be Marx, due to his balding pate and straight locks. Anyway, this man’s identity, as well as the origins of the artwork will probably forever remain a mystery to me, since I can’t find any information about them anywhere. My questions at the centre were met by shrugged shoulders and bafflement as to why I would be interested in finding out the provenance of a crumbling old East German mosaic.
yes, very strange, esp the way it looks as though the top is cut off. the figures look like school children’s drawings, and i would say this is a work of school children. i am sure it would have been sanctioned at some level. in the 1980s there was a trend for artists doing mural works with schools and local people.
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