Konrad Knebel

Knut Elstermann affectionately called him the "Canaletto of Prenzlauer Berg". But it is not only the quality of his pictures that has made him famous and popular, it is also essentially his civic commitment, his tireless arguments against the destruction of East Berlin's inner city and for the preservation of the historic building fabric. Before 1989, he went out on a limb, collected facts and photos and read the riot act to the socialist planners who wanted to demolish the buildings. 

Konrad Knebel is not only an enormously deserving artist, but also a wise one. He doesn't go through an urban housing stock one by one, as the less wise among the veduta painters do, as if they were employed by a statistics office. He depicts it more or less isomorphically, without exhausting himself in the aesthetic. He transposes his realistic, topographical depiction into a melancholy key that was sometimes also used by Hans Baluschek or Otto Nagel. 

The colour, the lighting conditions, the always overcast sky play an important role. The way Knebel characterises the weathered façades of the old buildings as sympathetically grey, in the sociological sense of mentality, paints a picture of the East in faithful hopelessness. 

The fact that so many stone witnesses from the past have survived, which can be appreciated and sympathetically renovated today, is also thanks to Konrad Knebel, who pleaded for caution and forbearance in dealing with the cracked and sooty.