Last weekend, I decided to walk from Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz to my house near the Karl-Marx-Allee. This walk took me through the areas of Mitte and Friedrichshain, which have both been on the east-side of the wall. There’s still quite some socialist architecture still to be seen in these area’s. In fact, Mitte and Friedrichshain were the most representative area’s of East-Berlin, housing large institutions and governmental buildings, as well as the Karl-Marx-Allee.
This probably explains the nice amount of socialist artworks that I was able to notice on my walk. The first picture, above, is of a renovated building near the Alexanderplatz, at the Alexanderstrasse. Just across the street, other buildings from the period are about to be demolished. That this building has been kept in such a good shape, is probably due to the fact that the entire building is wrapped in a gorgeous mosaic frieze. The picture I took displays the different gender-specific role models that men and women were meant to stick to. The woman is standing underneath a fruitbaring tree, with a child on her arm. The man is surrounded by scientific looking objects and children.
I encountered an other mosaic at Karl-Marx-Allee 34. This building now houses Café Moskau. The building itself basically consists of a glass rectangular shape, with an inner courtyard and cradled in elements such as decorative concrete sculptural walls and this mosaic, which surrounds the entrance. The building looks chic and modern, like an old fashioned James Bond movie set. During the socialist reign, it was common policy to hire artists to help construct the socialist communal identity. Gerhard Richter, now a celebrated German artist, started his ‘career’ in this position. The deer depicted in this mosaic especially attracted my attention. They seem to represent the ideal of nature and technology coexisting peacefully.
The yellow-tiled housing-blocks at the Karl-Marx-Allee contain some original interior elements. Every now and then, when I drink a coffee or a beer somewhere, or when I visit a shop, I get a glimpse of these elements. They can be original light-fittings, tiles, woodwork, paintings or mosaics. But the entrance hall in the building at Strausberger Platz 19 is kept completely in it’s original state. And it is quite pretty, as I discovered after a tenant allowed me in. The used colors are mostly whites and yellows, with brass detailing. The wall painting displays different festive, joyous activities, such as a wedding day and a visit to the park. The painting in the lower corner at the right, I’ve added a detail picture, shows a worker, a man who polishes lanterns. The joy of labor? Needless to say, it’s definitely worth while to take a peek in some of the buildings at the Karl-Marx-Allee.