Thierry Noir

Thierry Noir Berlin Wall.jpg

Thierry Noir is a French artist who is claimed to be the first street artist to paint the Berlin Wall. His brightly colored paintings, which often feature cartoon-like profiles, are now considered iconic and can still be seen on the East Side Gallery. He currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

In the 1980s, street art was considered vandalism, and German street artists avoided drawing on the wall - it was a kind of taboo for them, Berliners called it a “wall of shame”.

In April 1984, Noir and Christophe-Emmanuel Bouchet started to paint the Berlin Wall, eventually painting 1 kilometre of it. Initially, the attitude of West Berliners to Noir’s work was wary, often even hostile. Some believed that he was working for budget money and were against such spending of money from his taxes. Others believed that Tieri’s task was to make a more “presentable” wall, which they could not agree with. He stated of painting the wall at this time: "I decided spontaneously to start to make something on the wall. I got thousands of questions - everyone wanted to know something about this - because it was new - there were no big paintings on the wall." Between 1984 and the fall of the Berlin Wall many other artists painted the wall, including Keith Haring, Kiddy Cidny, and Indiano. Noir can be briefly seen painting part of the Berlin Wall in Wim Wenders's 1987 film Wings of Desire.

In 1992 the Berlin Wall was declared a historic monument. In 2009, Noir was part of an initiative by the local government to restore 1300 meters of the wall to address issues caused over the years by vandalism, weather, and theft. As a part of this initiative Noir repainted several of his original works.