Ben Wagin

Ben Wagin (Bernhard Wargin, born 25 March 1930 in Jastrow) is a German artist, sculptor, draughtsman, designer, performance artist, author, compositor and founder of the artistic group "die Baumpaten" (Godfathers of Trees).

S-Bahnhof Tiergarten


Since 1957 Wagin has been living in Berlin, where he studied at the University of the Arts. Being a student, he worked as assistant for sculptor Karl Hartung and others.

On 3 May 1962 he opened the "Galerie S" in the front yard of the student dormitory Siegmunds Hof. Here, he first presented works of Berlin's artists, but exhibition rooms of the Galerie S soon became famously known nation- and eventually worldwide. In May 1966 Wagin published the monthly newsletter "Galerien + Museen in Berlin" for the first time. On 8 May 1968 Wagin together with his Galerie S moved into the Europa-Center. Since 1970 he has been regularly showing art installations at Art Basel. In October 1976 Wagin founded "Baumpatenverein e.V." in Berlin, aiming at fostering the urban quality of life of the city.[1] For his exhibitions he used the Berlin-Pavillon in the 1970s as well as the orangery of Charlottenburg Palace and also the Lindentunnel next to Humboldt-Universität from 1993 to 1996. He also used halls of the TU Berlin on Ackerstraße as studio and exhibition space from the middle of 1980s to ca. 2006.[2][failed verification]

Ben Wagin in Lindentunnel, 1995
Project at Gräbendorfer See

In many works, exhibitions and other performances Wagin tries to make the viewer think about man-made changes of natural environment. In 1975 he initiated one of the first and to date one of the biggest wall paintings in Berlin at Siegmunds Hof, which is called "Weltbaum I". In 1985 he designed "Weltbaum II" with many other artists on "Brandmauer" at Berlins city train station S-Bahnhof Savignyplatz. Wagin has planted numerous trees in and around Berlin, often with politicians and persons engaged in the cultural sector. Wagin's trees still stand in front of federal ministries, theatres, museums, among others in front of Berliner Ensemble, the Gedächtniskirche and the Neuen Nationalgalerie.

The Parliament of Trees, 2010

In 2005 Wagin started "Sonnenboten" (Messengers of the Sun) and has since created 4 million oases of sunflowers together with schools and communities in the whole of Germany. Ben Wagin is known as "Baumpate" (Godfather of Trees) nationwide and has been able to plant around 50.000 Ginkgo trees from Moscow to Vilshofen.

Wagin has been fighting for years for the preservation of The Parliament of Trees, which has been standing as permanent installation in the middle of Berlin's governmental quarter since the 1990s. Pieces of the former Berlin Wall designed by Wagin were included in the library of the national German parliament in Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus and are known as "Mauer-Mahnmal des Bundestages" (Memorial of the Berlin Wall of the national German Parliament).

Since 2015 he has been converting the historic land as well as some of the halls of the former Anhalter Güterbahnhof, right next to the German Museum of Technology, into a natural and cultural memorial site. Ben Wagin is member of Deutschen Künstlerbund (the German Society of Artists).[3] Between 1974 and 1987 he participated eight times at the society's annual exhibitions under the name Ben Wargin.

S-Bahnhof Savignyplatz


  • Ben Wagin: Nenn mich nicht Künstler. Autobiografie, aufgezeichnet von Astrid Herbold. Ch. Links, Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-86153-813-4.
  • Ben Wagin: Ginkgo-Botschaften Berlin. Jovis, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3931321096.


External linksEdit