History

You could also call us “Filmkunst”.

Berlin 1907: Theaterkunst opens its doors in the Oranienburger Straße as a costume house for theater, opera, and cabaret and outfits the large Berlin theaters.  Thanks to its dedicated and detailed work, Theaterkunst also supports the emerging cinema in the following decades and provides large national and international film productions with costumes.

1920s: With the epic period films of the 1920s and 1930s, Theaterkunst grows to international size. Fritz Lang chooses to use the support of Theaterkunst in the costuming of METROPOLIS (1926) for the star Heinrich George. Marlene Dietrich (THE BLUE ANGEL, 1930) and Henny Porten (ANNA BOLEYN, 1920) are also perfectly costumed by Theaterkunst. The lead actors travel by ship from America for the fitting of armor and robes of the monumental cinematic work BEN HUR (1925).

1930s: Theaterkunst operates international offices in New York, Amsterdam, London, Copenhagen and Stockholm. At times, the firm employs over to 300 employees devoted to the production of films and plays. In 1936, founder and owner of Theaterkunst, Hermann J. Kaufmann, must sell the companies due to political pressure. During this time the great Ernst Lubitsch - and Joe May movies are wardrobed by Theaterkunst, with stars such as Pola Negri and Emil Jannings, for films including DER KONGRESS TANZT (1931) and MADAME BOVARY (1937).

1940s: During the Second World War, the collection of Theaterkunst is seriously damaged and is rebuilt only after the end of the war. The company is then divided into two parts – the management must relocate to West Berlin, and the location Schwedter Straße becomes the VEB Fortschritt Theaterkunst. The two companies compete in postwar Berlin.

The large film productions that are costumed during this decade include the 1940 made-in-Venice award-winning adaptation of Pushkin's THE STATIONMASTER and the adaptation of Gottfried Keller’s KLEIDER MACHEN LEUTE (1940).

1950s and 60s: The West Berlin branch of Theaterkunst moves to the Eisenzahnstrasse. In 1952 a further collection is established in Munich, the new German film capital. In 1953, the VEB Theaterkunst in East Berlin is closed.

In the following years, the costume collection, the library, and the print collection undergo a targeted expansion in the West Berlin branch. Award-winning films such as THE DEVIL´S GENERAL (1955), LOLA MONTEZ (1955), THE BRIDGE (1959), Billy Wilder’s ONE, TWO, THREE (1961), as well as the Karl May and Edgar Wallace films are provided with costumes from Theaterkunst. In the 1960s, Theaterkunst’s costume collection holding reaches its pre-war standing.

In the 1970s and 80s, Theaterkunst influences film and television history with projects including SPACE PATROL ORION (1966), TADELLOESER & WOLFF (1975), DAS BOOT (1979) and the Fassbinder films, including BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ (1980). Through the development of private television broadcasters, a new marketplace develops which in turn brings a greater need for modern costumes and current fashions.

In the 1990s, two more locations in the new media captials Hamburg and Cologne are opened. In addition to cinema films - including THE HOUSE OF SPIRITS (1993), SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998), RUN LOLA RUN (1998) - Theaterkunst now provides costumes for current TV productions, commercials, photo shoots, music videos, and events.

2000-2010:
Theaterkunst again focuses on its main location in Berlin. In 2002, the collection in Munich closes and in 2008, the location in Cologne is closed. The headquarters in Berlin is continuously expanded and is the starting point for great national and international film productions, including INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (2009), SHUTTER ISLAND (2010) or THE WHITE RIBBON (2008).

Photo and video productions, including music videos for WIR SIND HELDEN, ROSENSTOLZ, PETER FOX and RAMMSTEIN are outfitted with costumes from Theaterkunst.

In 2007 the Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen opens a special exhibition of film costumes on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Theaterkunst.  Original movie costumes, photos and drawings are presented, ranging from the 1910s through contemporary German film.

The exhibition was conceived together with Theaterkunst. It can be seen at the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin and is also shown in Hamburg, Hanover and Düsseldorf in the following years.

2011 – Present
At the end of 2013 the company also closes the location in Hamburg. Over 25,000 costume pieces and accessories from the 50s, 60s, and 70s to the present are moved to the Berlin headquarters. The new pieces are integrated successively into Germany's largest collection of historical and contemporary film costumes.

Recent and award-winning productions that were costumed by Theaterkunst include among others HOMELAND (2011), THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014), DEUTSCHLAND 83 (2015), SENSE 8 (2015), TONI ERDMANN (2016), BERLIN STATION (2017) and IN THE FADE (2017).

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