When the Berlin wall fell in 1989, its pieces — its concerete bits, chunks and slabs — ended up as so many souvenirs and art objet for collectors, museums and public urban installations all over the world. The Berlin wall was a long, massive canvas for sreet artists and graffiti writers. Covered in layer upon layer of scrawls, imagery, paint and political messages, the wall was like lonr-running (literally) communal, open-source work of of public art on the West Berlin side. Viewed out of its context far away from Berlin, a slab of the wall functions as a stand-alone piece of art that is a legitimate subject of aesthetic consideration. And it also functions as a historical artifact that reminds viewers of one of the uglier 20 geo-political events of the 20th Century.

New Yorkers have their own slab of the Berlin wall in Midtown Manhattan. This image shows an actual segment of the Cold War barrier on public view behind real-estate developer Jerry Speyer’s office building at 520 Madison Avenue. To get to it, you need to access a small, open plaza on the north side of 53rd Street between 5th and Madison avenues. Check it.

Ivan Corsa Photo