Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Munich is a rather posh city, although it does seem to have a bit of rebellion beneath the surface. When walking through Berlin I was always struck by the amount of graffiti... new buildings, old buildings, it was all fair game. It really seemed as though everything had been marked.

According to my friend who is a Dachau tour guide, Bavaria was part of Roman territory and northern Germany is still seen as the wild part that is undignified and uncivilized. I will never be able to get into the German psyche, but I can attest to Berlin and Munich being dramatically different. Berlin is very bohemian and still struggles with the reunification. There's still a tension between the people in former East Germany and those in the West. I also notice people in Munich asking visitors for reassurance of what a great city it is. Perhaps I am wrong and they simply want to chat with strangers, something Germans aren't too keen on, but Berlin seems to be more encompassing, accepting, and anything goes.

Lately in Munich, I have seen graffiti taken to a more elevated art form using stencils, similar to the well known street artist from Bristol, England - Banksy. Being the art historian that I am, I think it's comical how even in being rebellious there is a structure to a lot of the graffiti found in Munich. Here are several examples from around the city.

Some of the stencils are fascinating, others are strange, but they always capture my attention and cause me to consider what message the person was attempting to convey. The content varies from ants to monkeys, political to down right strange. There are some definite treasures to be found in the most unexpected places. One of my favorites is near our friend Dirk's old apartment. It's pretty straight forward and always makes me smile. So simple, yet so endearing.

I must admit I appreciate the thought that goes into creating these stencils. I've also seen this more refined form of graffiti in Vienna. Here are a few Austrian examples.

It's always interesting to observe random street artifacts that tell a lot about modern culture. I always take some extra time to observe my surroundings and find fascinating things - especially those geared towards America / war. Take it for what you will... everyone wants to leave some kind of mark on society.

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