Public Art between GDR and Prussia

Posted on November 10, 2011

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Because I had a meeting there I took the day to bike around Potsdam and see their public art (and parks and buildings of course). First stop was a tower by Dutch artist Lucas Lenglet, situated perfectly in the city center and also next to some plattenbau flats. It’s a really nice work I think, it was ‘left over’ from a temporary public art exhibition a few years ago and it’s still standing. The neighbours love it I heard, and so they should.

Being a former GDR town Potsdam is full of Kunst am Bau – from big rocky abstract things to small animals and fairytale figures. I found some nice examples of the latter in a street where the plattenbau was kind of tailored to the 17th or 18th century surroundings. The sculpteres were tucked into niches over the doors, and the figures seemed to happily adjust to their oblong confinements.

Most astounding thing in Potsdam was the Stadtschloss being built, it gives a preview of what it would be like in Berlin if it ever comes to that. Building a 19th century neoclassical castle for a king who is dead, with concrete and large cranes. After dark they light it with huge lights to be able to work, which makes it look even more alien.

But then again in Potsdam they are very, very experienced when it comes to fake architecture. They have a Holländisches Viertel (built by a Dutch architect but still slightly off), an area with Russian wooden houses which looks like a remote country village right within the city, a Dampfmaschinenhaus that is disguised as a mosque (steam comes out of the minaret) and then in Sanssoucci a Chinese teahouse, full of guilded non-Chinese decorations.

What to make of all this Prussian pastiche, as it is now being played out against anything to do with GDR history, or so it seems?

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