Moor Pharmacy

  • mural
  • 2022

In “Moor Pharmacy”, the artist focuses on colonial narratives surrounding Mohren-Apotheke, a pharmacy operating until 1945 in Breslau (today’s Wrocław). Before an avant-garde modernist building was erected in the northern frontage of Plac Solny in the mid-1920s, there had been burgher houses there with pharmacies operating at least from the second half of the 15th century. The exact date of establishment of the pharmacy in question is unknown, but it was mentioned for the first time in the 1489 statute regulating the functioning of Wrocław pharmacies as the newest of four such establishments in the city at the time. From the very beginning it was called Mohren-Apotheke, i.e. “Moor pharmacy.” The emblem of the tenement house and the logo of the pharmacy – the image of the “Moor’s head,” intended to trigger associations with exotic lands – was a very popular motif throughout the ages. Another important local attraction was a life-size figure of a black man, made at the end of the 19th century, which decorated the facade of the building at the height of the first floor. At the beginning of the 20th century, the pharmacy was redesigned by Adolf Rading according to the principles of De Stijl movement. He refreshed the aesthetics of the old pharmacy by giving it a geometric, modernist image and inscribing the “Moor” logo into its visual identity. This time, the sign showed a black, round face with wide eyes and a big mouth. This way of representing Africans was also used in other Western countries as visual identification of different organisations throughout the 20th century. In these strategies, the image of a black man was codified and introduced into the visual culture mainly due to his skin colour and exaggerated external features.


The logo of the Moor Pharmacy, designed by Artur Schwarz, has been taken from a newspaper clipping from around 1927; source material from the collection of the City Museum of Wrocław.

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