Archive: Art in Germany
North Korea’s Mansudae leaves its mark on Africa with huge sculptures

North Korea’s Mansudae leaves its mark on Africa with huge sculptures

The Mansudae Overseas Project - Angola - Agostinho Neto Mausoleum, Luanda 1
Angola – Agostinho Neto Mausoleum, Luanda

Artwork from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has always been a trademark for modern socialist realism. Although North Korea is well known for being the most secretive nation in the world, the largely unknown nation is certainly not shy when it comes to publicizing their statues, monuments, grand festivals, and celebrations. In particular, a North Korean based construction company known as Mansudae Overseas Project, has been designing fine art for decades, helping art to become one of North Korea’s most important and most successful exports. While many other North Korean barriers remain up, fine art from the country has managed to make its way in foreign countries that are located as far away as Africa.

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Marta Minujín’s monument on notorious Nazi book-burning location

Marta Minujín’s monument on notorious Nazi book-burning location

Marta Minujín - The Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, documenta 14, Photo- Roman März 1
Marta MinujinThe Parthenon of Books, 2017, documenta 14, Friedrichsplatz Kassel, Germany
Photo: Roman März

In the 1930s and 1940s in Nazi Germany, the government banned thousands of books which had been written by authors of Jewish descent or writers that had previously shown communist or pacifist alliances. Decades later, a monument has been created to commemorate the censored books under the guidance of Argentine artist Marta Minujin. The monument is designed to look like the full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, which has become one of the world’s most visited monuments.

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McDonald’s did not pay for Brad Downey’s mural

McDonald’s did not pay for Brad Downey’s mural

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany 5
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Brad Downey has consolidated a reputation for himself in the street art community as an artist who has a flair for navigating gray areas in the society. His work in public is an expert combination of culture and sensationalism, which are both presented and partnered with media friendly and pop culture acceptable imagery.

Case in point, Brad Downey’s McDonald’s mural proves that art is made up of more than the audience’s understanding of subject or object included in the art; it is an idea that lives, grows and mutates in the audience’s imagination. As a result of his unique perspective on art, the McDonalds’s mural received a lot of attention partly because it did not contain any humoristic slogans or any disruption by rats, as is common with other well-known street artists. The piece was also not intended to be a McDonald advertisement; this commercial mural was created ironically and was anticipated to serve as a radical and controversial piece for the urban art rebel.

Downey created the McDonald mural at a time when the University of Leuphana (where the mural was created), was undergoing a rebranding process. The branding strategy adopted by the university was intended to raise school fees, which made the students unhappy. In response to the rebranding, Downey created the mural to address the issue. Downey’s mural is the perfect example of how street art can help to manipulate the reality of the situation as a way of passing across a message and generating interest.

Downey selected the McDonalds logo, not because it had anything to do with the worldwide chain of restaurants, but because he wanted a logo that evoked power. According to Downey, any logo would have served the purpose, but McDonalds’ seemed to be a great fit. By using the well-known brand, audiences were forced to look beneath the surface to really get the message in the work. The McDonalds piece was received by the student body of the university well and even inspired some of the students to address the issue through various different mediums such as film.

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Brad Downey - I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany
Brad DowneyI’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany


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Thai artist failed miserably, or did he not? – Sakarin Krue-On

Thai artist failed miserably, or did he not? – Sakarin Krue-On

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 7000sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

In 2007 Thai artist Sakarin Krue-On attempted to transform the park in front of a castle in Kassel, Germany into a 7.000sqm terraced rice field. For this project Krue-On and his Thai team tried to dispense the use of machines as much as possible, while relying on traditional methods, using simple devices such as spades, forks and hooks.

The clash of cultures, impressively shown through the contrast of the Wilhelmshöhe Castle and the field, is a key element of this work: On the one hand the majestic piece of European architecture, symbolizing status and power, embodying Western provenance, and right beneath, Thai workers using ancient methods to cultivate rice fields. Terraced Rice Field can also be seen as a representation of growth and collaboration. Pulling off documenta 12’s biggest work, an art event which drew 754,000 paying visitors, required an immense amount of negotiation and communication, in which different working methods met in the planning process. This is another major component of the artwork: Collective cooperation in which traditional knowledge meets scientific expertise.

This site-specific project was the first time that wet rice open air terraces were cultivated in outside fields in Germany. Unfortunately, the majority of the terraces couldn’t hold the water; regardless of what amount got added, it kept trickling away, and the work on project ultimately got stopped due to security concerns. However, more importantly than successfully growing crops, Krue-On managed to bring together people from all walks to life, transcending barriers by working next to each other.

Kassel Schloss Wilhelmshoehe photo dontworry
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 7000sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 7000sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 7000sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 7000sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 7000sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on -  Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12
Sakarin Krue-OnTerraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 7000sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007

Sakarin Krue-on - Terraced Rice Fields, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12 9
Sakarin Krue-On with photo of Terraced Rice Fields, rice field, ca. 7000sqm, Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel, Germany, documenta12, 2007


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Joan Miró’s colorful artworks: Designed to be walked over

Joan Miró’s colorful artworks: Designed to be walked over

Joan Miró - 1970, earthenware, 10x50m, Terminal B, El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain detail
Joan MiróWall of the Barcelona Airport (detail), 1970, earthenware, 10x50m, Terminal B, El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain

If you have ever been to Barcelona, you must have walked over one of Joan Miro’s mosaics. The artist began to publicly display his work in 1976 when he chose the centre of Barcelona’s Rambla to permanently incorporate his work into a pavement. This was in fulfilment of a pledge he had made in 1968 to create four pieces of art which he would donate to the city of Barcelona where he was born. The use of different colors in the mosaic brings out the vibrancy that is his style of art. All the artwork that is associated with Joan Miró speaks the language of simplicity; generous use of color and simple shapes. More than four decades after his first outdoor work of art, the works of Joan Miró located in various parts of the world are enjoying facelifts of massive proportions.

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Beautiful sculptures made entirely from soap – Meekyoung Shin

Beautiful sculptures made entirely from soap – Meekyoung Shin

Meekyoung Shin - Crouching Aphrodite, 2002
Meekyoung ShinCrouching Aphrodite, 2002

Meekyoung Shin, a South Korean sculptor, became popular for her Translation series, using soap as her medium of art. Trained in the tradition of European sculpture, her statuettes are made factoring in the Western and Eastern style of relief. Her works are usually made from palm oil, a vegetarian soap.

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Jaume Plensa’s stunning larger-than-life sculptures

Jaume Plensa’s stunning larger-than-life sculptures

Jaume Plensa - Paula, 2013, Bronze, 179 x 63 x 63 cm, Toledo Museum of Art, 2016, Photo The Blade:Andy Morrison

Jaume Plensa
Jaume Plensa

Jaume Plensa is arguably one of the top sculptors today. He is largely known for creating huge-sized ethereal sculptures, and has also worked with different other types of contemporary art media, including from acoustic installations to video projections.

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