Works on cardboard
When he arrived in Berlin in 1982, Thierry Noir settled in a squat overlooking the Wall at the border of East and West Berlin. One day in April 1984, Noir spontaneously began to paint the Wall, becoming the first artist to do so. For five years, Noir covered the Wall, more than 3 metres high, with his now iconic works in bright, vivid colours, using whatever paint he could scavenge from nearby construction sites. Noir’s objective was to perform one real revolutionary act: To paint the Wall, to transform it, to make it ridiculous, and ultimately to help destroy it. His seemingly innocent works painted on this deadly border symbolised a sole act of defiance and a lone voice of freedom. During this time, Noir painted his infamous heads on scraps of cardboard he found in the streets.
To survive, he sold these cardboard works in the evenings to the people sitting in Berlin’s many restaurants and cafes. By day, he continued to paint the Wall, developing the Fast Form Manifest technique that allowed him to paint as quickly as possible, using the recipe of ‘two ideas, three colours’. This reflected the necessity of painting quickly outdoors in a hazardous environment, with very real risks to his personal safety. By night, this same technique was translated onto his cardboard pieces, providing Noir with the little money he needed to survive until the next day.
These cardboard works formed the genesis of his artistic practice, eventually developing into works on canvas as Noir’s work became internationally renowned.
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