Department or Program

German Studies

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Anjeana Hans


My research follows the work of the artist group Ratgeb, a collective of five West German artists from the generation of Germans who grew up in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. During the eight years that the group was active, the Ratgeb Collective worked with squatters, school children, teenage runaways, immigrant minorities, juvenile delinquents and even a biker gang to create more than a dozen large-scale murals within Berlin. Eleven of these murals can still be seen today, nearly four decades after their creation. My thesis focuses on both Ratgeb’s commissioned and illegal mural projects, all of which comment on the housing crisis that arose in the 1980s following the retail speculation government officials had organized with foreign investors. The namesake of the group, and honorary sixth member, Jörg Ratgeb was an altar and fresco painter who regularly infused his religious paintings with messages of political dissent, and was later executed due to his leadership role in the Farmer’s uprising.

In honor of this early fellow German artist and activist, the Collective Ratgeb adopted not only his name but his revolutionary drive to use murals as a means of communicating the wants and needs of those civilians that had been overlooked and neglected by government officials and the social elite of West Berlin.