The World Cup Fresco

Cologne Main Station

During the 2006 Football Worldcup in Germany, the fresco adorned Cologne's
Main Station. The vaulted ceiling of this unusual building, located immediately
next to Cologne Cathedral, measures a colossal 40 x 20.5 m.

Design and reality: below the ceiling fresco, which is almost double the size
of that in the Sistine Chapel, the viewers seem tiny.

  • The era of illusionistic ceiling frescos spans more than a quarter of a millennium — from the High Renaissance to the Rococo period. The World Cup fresco was to become a „Best Of“ of the genre's various stylistic epochs. To compile suitable stylistic features, a first test-illustration of a player was created and viewed within the context of different examples from art history.

  • A trial proof in the final size was produced to check the resolution, the color settings and other technical properties.                     

  • The trial proof measured less than one-tenth of the complete picture — but was still impressively large.
    Spread in the agency's courtyard, it gave a first impression of the fresco's dimensions.

  • Against a first, rough version of the background, different poses, positions and scalings of the players were tried out.           

  • The final composition had to consider a number of manufacturing requirements,
    e.g. that no seams would end up running through the players’ faces.

  • The fresco was revealed to the public two days prior to the opening of the World Cup tournament —
    to the accompanying sounds of a baroque chamber orchestra dressed in football outfits.                     

  • The fresco was on national TV only five minutes after it had been revealed and received press coverage during the full course of the World Cup. More than 8.5 million people visited the landmark advertising site and many more saw it across all media around the world.

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