An exhibition documenting the work of Kunst am Bau, a GDR artists’ collective, opens in Dresden this Saturday. KaB worked on many of the large scale urban developments in East Germany and shaped public art across the country . Formed in 1958, the group consisted of painters,architects, graphic designers, and ceramists. They produced around 2,500 works in Dresden, Halle, Leipzig & Berlin, including mosaics, murals, sculptures, fountains, molded walls (including the distinctive rippled walls), structural walls & playground features.
Despite being dependent on state patronage and approval, the group didn’t really subscribe to the official Socialist Realist style & embraced more radical styles such as abstraction and cubism. The work was space-age, utopian and pretty outlandish. Have a look at the elephant pictured below, built from prefabricated components:
The group was dissolved in 1990.
In years following the Wende, many of their works were destroyed and/or fell into disrepair.
The KiB exhibition brings together some of the KiBs surviving works, removed from their original architectonic contexts, photos of the ones which didn’t survive, as well as documents relating to the state commissions, and reflects the renewed interest in the once discredited visual culture of the GDR.
The exhibition is in their former studios in southern Dresden and runs til the 25. Sept.
This very striking wall and its ceramic sculptures are located in a very undignified position between two takeaways, a portaloo and a Plus supermarket in Schillingstrasse, Mitte. I can’t find any info about it anywhere. It’s pretty mad, radical design, even by East German standards. Schillingstrasse seems to have been a showcase for GDR design, with Cafe Moskau & Kino International at its northern end, this in the middle, and some great mosaics on the buildings at its southern end (see next post). This wall isn’t protected so unless the Denkmalschutz people get on the case, it may disappear – a lot of the surrounding area is still distinctly post-communist (see Berolinastrasse) and thus cheap, but also very central, making it prime demolition/redevelopment territory.
This fountain is located on the corner of Holzmarktstrasse and Alexanderstrasse, next to the cafe zur Jannowitzbrücke. The Pfauenbrunnen (Peacock fountain) was executed in 1978 by Margit Schötschel-Gabriel, who also produced various sculptures for the Tierpark, including this very bizarre little fellow.