Thierry Noir

Thierry Noir was born in 1958 in Lyon, France, and came to Berlin in January 1982. In April 1984, Noir began to paint the Berlin Wall and is believed to be the first artist to do so. Noir covered the Berlin Wall, more than 3 metres high, with bright, vivid colours, aiming not to embellish the wall but to demystify itNoir’s iconic, bright and seemingly innocent works painted on this deadly border symbolised a sole act of defiance and a lone voice of freedom.
 
Painting on the wall was not allowed. It was purposely built 3 metres beyond the official border so the east-German soldiers were able to arrest any person standing near it. Noir had to paint as quickly as possible, using the recipe of ‘two ideas, three colours’. Despite their bright colours and playful nature, the murals left a lingering sense of melancholy.
 
Noir is today being increasingly recognised as a key forerunner of the modern street art movement. Noir is also compared with contemporaneous New York pop artist Keith Haring also born in 1958 and who likewise began his career on the streets.
 
Noir’s practice has a strong emphasis on line and aims to simplify forms to their most basic elements. This simplicity reflected the necessity of painting outdoors in a hazardous environment with very real risks to his personal safety. Noir’s reaction to his environment and his monsters are a metaphor for the Wall itself, each one relating to his experiences or feelings of what he calls a ‘killing machine’.

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