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Mr. Strumbel’s clocks, which are based on traditional models but are adorned with grenades and handguns instead of rabbits and antlers, now sell through Galerie Springmann in Freiburg for $1,200 to $35,000 (or 850 to 25,000 euros) each.
Their popularity could be attributed to the way they capture the spirit of the new Germany, said Mon Muellerschoen, an independent curator in Munich. “A Germany that is aware of its past, but ready to take new, lighthearted and colorful paths — a Germany that can accept its clichés with the wink of an eye.”
But in Mr. Strumbel’s apartment, a surprisingly urban space where the walls are electric raspberry and pink, there is no sign of the clocks. There is, however, an extensive collection of artwork by contemporary street artists — his one big luxury.
“Whenever I have some money, I spend it on art,” Mr. Strumbel said. “When I’m home I don’t want to think of work.”
His spare living room is decorated with prints by Shepard Fairey, the graphic designer and artist known for designing the Obama “Hope” poster; a self-portrait by Jonathan Meese, the German artist; and prints by the British graffiti artist Banksy and by Swoon, an American street artist.
Mr. Strumbel travels frequently to Berlin and Hamburg but said he prefers living here, in his heimat, on the edge of the Black Forest: “I really like to look out my window and see the church,” he said. “It’s cool.”
He found the 1,100-square-foot apartment, on the third floor of a 19th-century building — for which he pays around $975 (or 700 euros) a month in rent — about five years ago, through a family that had hired him to do a large mural for their brewery here. The place was in bad shape, with musty carpeting and ugly beige wallpaper. At the time, he had a limited budget, he said, so he did the renovation himself.
When he peeled off the paper covering one of the living room walls, the rough-hewn texture reminded him of the gritty facades of buildings in East Berlin. He liked it so much that he left it that way, sealing it with industrial glue, and used the same technique on one of the dining room walls.
“My goal is to bring a little bit of the street into my home,” Mr. Strumbel said. “And something from my heimat into the streets.”
He is responsible for two of the most striking pieces of furniture: a dining-room table that he designed and made out of wood scraps from his studio in an old fabric factory nearby and a religious altar that he found on the street last year and “pimped with some skulls” and a painted stone Madonna from a flea market.
The velvet-upholstered dining chairs were inherited from his grandmother, as was the rose-striped Biedermeier couch.
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“I was very close to my grandmother,” he said. “She lived in my parents’ house for her last years when I was in my teens.”
The kitchen is dominated by a collage of small paintings, graffiti tags and stickers covering many of the surfaces. Mr. Strumbel pointed out a piece done by his uncle, “an artist who killed himself before I was born,” showing the uncle as a child, with Donald Duck.
“Can you believe that it’s more than 40 years old?” he said. “That piece has inspired me since I was a child. We have a similar sense of humor.”
Back in the hall, he looked up at the old-fashioned chandelier over the altar. “That’s from my grandmother too — it’s the first thing I see when I walk in the door,” he said. “I see that light, and I immediately feel like I’ve come home.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 4, 2010, on Page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: The Clockmaker’s Retreat. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe
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