The artist Wolf Vostell created this monument for Berlin’s 750th birthday at Rathenau Platz, a wasteland of town planning at the western end of the Kurfürstendamm. The two cadillacs set in con- crete were among a number of commissioned sculptures which were intended to transform the chic West Berlin shopping street into a “boulevard of sculptures.”
The title, Two Cadillacs in the Form of the Naked Maja (a reference to the famous Goya painting), hints at the degree of mockery and self-parody the viewer is subjected to. The artwork, which in many ways plays with German and American identities, was erected in 1987 and references the mass of cars that branches off to the city motorway in one direction and leads back onto the boulevard from the other.
The sculpture set citizens’ groups against each other as they campaigned to get it taken down. Another controversial commissioned work was Olaf Metzel’s sculpture Randaledenkmal (Memorial of the 1981 Riots). It is composed of police crowd barriers, paving stones and a shopping trolley, and was initially errected on the Kurfür-stendamm at the Joachimsthaler Straße crossing. However, it was removed after protests from local businesses, and today the privately-owned artwork is installed at the Osthafen.
In contrast, Vostell’s sculpture has proven to be more resilient. The artist’s exploration of the car as a fetish object (and as “the largest sculpture of the twentieth century“), seems to be just as striking and cogent as it was when it was first exhibited more than twenty years ago.
Address: Rathenauplatz, 10711 Berlin Bus, Tube, Tram: S4 Halensee; Bus 104, M19, M29 Rathenauplatz