Willi Berger was born in Bärwalde (now Mieszkowice, Poland) in 1922. He died in 2018. He started working as a freelance artist in 1979, specialising in images of nature. With his Wall painting “Soli Deo Gloria” (Glory to God alone) he took a stand against censorship of the arts.

Willi Berger’s painting covered in graffiti, 1997
Willi Berger’s painting covered in graffiti, 1997

Berger’s Wall painting “Soli Deo Gloria” is an homage to the painter Johannes Meissel. It is a copy of the painting “Gott allein die Ehre” (Glory to God alone) by Meissel, his former art teacher, who was banned from exhibiting both in Nazi Germany and in the GDR because of his expressionist style. Both paintings show a colourful church window. Meissel chose this motif to translate the last fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach into colour.

Berger studied painting and graphic arts at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Berlin. In 1951, he qualified as a district forester and worked for 20 years as a curator in a bird watch on the island of Hiddensee. Here he was also active as a freelance artist, painting images of local nature which he sold worldwide. Berger saw himself as a socialist but criticized the situation in the GDR.


„Soli Deo Gloria“ is part of the online-tour: Life in a Dictatorship

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