“That [the East Side Gallery] would still be standing today and have stayed lively, and is such an interesting place for tourists, nobody could have predicted that back then.”

Interview 2021

Karsten Wenzel was born in Ilmenau (East Germany) in 1965 and is a qualified typesetter. In 1988 he moved to East Berlin. After the fall of the Wall, he studied painting in Berlin. He now works as a freelance artist and teacher. His painting “Die Beständigkeit der Ignoranz” (The persistence of ignorance) criticises the blindness of rulers and the public.

Karsten Wenzel in the interview

On his painting

Who is Karsten Wenzel?

Ups and downs of an artist's life

From the making of the East Side Gallery to the present

How it felt to paint on the Wall

What is art?

When urban development threatens livelihoods

Renovating in 2009

Demolition over the artists' heads

"The East Side Gallery is…"

Wenzel’s painting “Die Beständigkeit der Ignoranz” (“The persistence of ignorance”) shows a black brick wall in front of smoking chimneys. They are contrasted by the figure of a faceless man in a grand robe and proud posture in front of the wall. His glasses and the shape of his head suggest that he is former East German head-of-state Erich Honecker. His robe resembles the coronation gown worn by the French king Louis XVI who was executed during the French Revolution in 1790. Wenzel’s painting criticises the blindness and insensitivity shown not only by our rulers but by us all.

Wenzel trained to become a typesetter. In 1988 he moved to East Berlin where he painted cinema posters and, in 1990, co-founded the firm Kinomalerei. In 1994 he enrolled to study painting at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. Now a freelance artist, Wenzel has had numerous solo and group exhibitions and worked for film and theatre projects. He teaches art at a youth art school in Pankow, Berlin.


„Die Beständigkeit der Ignoranz“ is part of the online-tour: Life in a Dictatorship

all artworks