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The “Kings of Freedom”: Four Panels of The Berlin Wall, from the Robert & MeiLi Hefner Collection are on Exhibit at the University of Virginia

April 7, 2016 by Metra Nichols

Four panels of the Berlin Wall entitled “Kings of Freedom” were unveiled at the University of Virginia on Friday, April 11, 2014 and is open for public viewing located adjacent to Alderman Library and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the university grounds in Charlottesville. The panels are on loan to UVa by Robert and MeiLi Hefner, owners of Ramiiisol Vineyards, as part of a commemorative of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. On November 9, 2014 a remembrance ceremony was held onsite at the installation of the "Kings of Freedom" on the grounds of UVa with remarks made by President Teresa Sullivan and Robert A. Hefner III. The installation has been an inspiration to the community of Charlottesville, through the programs affiliated with the University, such as the Alzheimer's Associaton and Writer's Eye, an annual literary competition in which the "Kings of Freedom" are featured in the 2016 Anthology.

Robert Hefner, sensing the long-term magnitude of human change and historical enormity of the people of East and West Germany tearing down the Berlin Wall, sent a representative to Berlin to negotiate for a substantial section of the Wall, as he believed it to be an icon of the “power of personal freedom”. He was able to secure four complete sections of the Wall. Measuring sixteen feet in length and twelve feet tall, these sections contain two murals by the graffiti artist Dennis Kaun; painted on the West German side is a brightly colored, joyful king, representing freedom, and a largely colorless, blindfolded king, oblivious to the needs and wishes of the people.

The East German side remains dull gray cement. Hefner believes these two sides, the colorful, lively West German side, and the gray East German side, artistically represent the character of freedom and enslavement. As Hefner says, these pieces of the Wall represent a great monument to the “power of personal freedom”, clearly symbolized by the fact that President Reagan came to the Wall in 1987 and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall!” But neither Reagan nor Gorbachev, the world’s most powerful leaders, could tear down the Wall but, the people, exercising their free will, could and did. Thus, the “power of personal freedom”.

West German graffiti artist Dennis Kaun created his Pop murals on the West side of the Berlin Wall using spray paint.  Dennis Kaun says that altogether it took six hours over two sessions to create the murals he entitled, "Kings of Freedom". Every graffiti artist has their own unique style and signature. Over a period of years, Dennis Kaun became known for the art he created on the Berlin Wall and ultimately, he was invited to participate in international graffiti painting contests.

The Kings of Freedom murals have traveled across the globe and have been on display at; the Kirkpatrick Center in Oklahoma City, the Aspen Art Museum in Aspen Colorado, the Oklahoma City Omniplex, Bedok Reservoir in the Republic of Singapore, and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.


       
 

 

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