Achim Freyer. Pictorial works for the stage

Achim Freyer’s design for the puppet of the Tapferes Schneiderlein (The Brave Little Tailor) represents several thousand sheets of costume and set designs as well as sketches for the musical and straight theatre of the 20th century. Starting with in part stamp-sized sketches to fully developed set designs and figurines, the holdings represent the variety of the artistic work of the painter, director and set designer Achim Freyer (born in 1934). One special feature is the optic scene progressions for selected stagings. These are painstakingly created small drawings using mixed techniques, which are often drawn over later on and bear handwritten notes or are used for the work as colour copies in individual parts. Poster designs and drawings for animated and puppet films complete the holdings.


born on 30 March 1934 in Berlin

After training as a painter and graphic artist, Achim Freyer was a master student of set design under Berthold Brecht from 1954 to 1956 at the Akademie der Künste. From 1959, Freyer worked as a set and costume designer, among others for Ruth Berghaus, Adolf Dresen and Benno Besson. After a theatre scandal with the staging of Clavigo at Deutsches Theater Berlin in 1972, Freyer fled the GDR during a guest performance in Italy. From 1973, he began working in the Federal Republic as a freelance set and costume designer for theatre and opera with Hans Neugebauer, Hans Lietzau, Christoph von Dohnányi and Claus Peymann. In 1976, he took up a position as a professor at the College of the Arts, Berlin and has been a member of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin since 1989. In addition to his work for contemporary musical and straight theatre, Achim Freyer has also shown his work as a painter and performance artist at numerous exhibitions, including documenta. He developed his own theatre pieces on various subjects and forms with the Freyer Ensemble, founded in 1988, which brings together actors, dancers, acrobats, musicians, singers, directors and set designers.

Archive and collection

The Achim Freyer Archive at the Akademie der Künste comprises approximately 15 running metres of material that show the diversity of his artistic work, including staging documents, sketch books, scene photos and several thousand sheet costume and stage designs as well as sketches on musical and straight theatre of the 20th century. For most stagings, conceptual notes, sequence outlines, stage model photographs that have been written over and detailed stage models with the accompanying figures and props have been preserved. Of particular interest are the documents on Freyer’s first theatre staging of Maria Magdalena at the Schlosspark-Theater Berlin (1974) and his first opera staging of Iphigenie auf Tauris in Munich (1979), on his early work on animated and puppet films and other film works. Dedicatory inscriptions, for example by Helmut Lachenmann, Dieter Schnebel, Mauricio Kagel, Philip Glass and Erhard Großkopf, personal documents and secondary material such as reviews, scene and rehearsal photos and exhibition catalogues complete the Achim Freyer Archive.

History of the holdings

On the basis of a deed of donation dating from 2004, Achim Freyer submits records and documents of his artistic work to the Archives of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin on an ongoing basis.


Akademie der Künste [AdK], Berlin, Achim-Freyer-Archiv