Art and artefacts from behind the Berlin Wall

With this year marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new book from Taschen reveals some of the everyday graphic designs, artworks and artefacts that typified life in the former East Germany.

Menu, Milk Bar Penguin, Leipzig, 1960s
Menu, Milk Bar Penguin, Leipzig, 1960s

The book is written by Justinian Jampol, who founded the Wende Museum in Los Angeles, California. The museum is named after the ‘Wende’ period of change and unification following the fall of the Iron Curtain, and features a collection of the visual and material culture of the former Eastern Bloc.

The new book – Beyond the Wall: Art and Artefects from the GDR – presents more than 2500 items from the Wende’s collection.

Among them are advertisements for “good shopping at the HO Stalinallee” and the menu from a Leipzig Milk Bar.

Erich Honecker in the Crosshairs, modified in 1989
Erich Honecker in the Crosshairs, modified in 1989

More sinister artefects include a pen microphone used by the Ministry for State Security and a Nazi straightjacket which was reused by the GDR authorities.

More recent items include seditionary objects such as a bust of Lenin painted pink and a photograph of former GDR leader Erich Honecker in the cross-hairs of a rifle.

The book also comes with a facsimile of a GDR family scrapbook,documenting real and imagined travels both within East Germany and across the border.

Leipzig Trade Fair mascot, 1964; designed by Gerhard Behrendt; Leipziger Messe
Leipzig Trade Fair mascot, 1964; designed by Gerhard Behrendt; Leipziger Messe

Beyond the Wall: Art and Artifacts from the GDR, by Justinian Jampol, is published by Taschen priced at £99.99.

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