Who is Heike Stephan?

Painting starts on Potsdamer Platz

The idea behind the East Side Gallery

Motivation for and exit from the project

The road to becoming a freelance artist in Erfurt

Artist in the GDR

Watched by the Stasi

Approached by the Stasi

Move to East Berlin

The Berlin art scene

From East Berlin to New York

"The East Side Gallery is…"

"The East Side Gallery was one of my greatest ideas."

Heike Stephan, 2021

Heike Stephan is an artist and curator, born in Thuringia (East Germany) in 1953. Having wanted to become an artist since childhood, she was accepted into the Erfurt artists’ association in 1982 despite being self-taught. She created performances with other women and came under Stasi observation. She moved to East Berlin in 1983. In November 1989 she took part in the first painting action on the east side of the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz. The Wall was primed white, and paints provided. International TV teams reported on the action. But the Berlin Wall was still the property of the GDR and border soldiers painted over the works the next day. Heike Stephan then came up with the idea for the East Side Gallery together with David Monty. They wanted to take the Potsdamer Platz action further with international artmakers and create an open-air gallery. When the Ministry of National Defence announced it would make the Wall in Mühlenstraße available, Heike Stephan pulled out of the project. A 1.3-kilometre section of the Wall was not how she had imagined the longest international open-air gallery in the world. Heike Stephan now lives in Thuringia.

Heike Stephan‘s painting on the border wall at Potsdamer Platz on 17 November 1989,
Heike Stephan‘s painting on the border wall at Potsdamer Platz on 17 November 1989,

Additional information:

Homepage: https://www.heike-stephan.de/vita/

Contemporary witnesses