Achim Freyer was born in Berlin in 1934 and studied graphic design at the School of Graphic Design and Book Production in Berlin, additionally attending Bertolt Brecht’s course in stage design at the city’s Academy of Arts. Since 1977 he has designed the sets and costumes and directed a variety of plays and works of music theatre, including the world premieres of works by composers as diverse as Reiner Bredemeyer, Alvin Curran, Philip Glass, Erhard Grosskopf, Mauricio Kagel, Helmut Lachenmann, Dieter Schnebel, Salvatore Sciarrino and Lucia Ronchetti. Among his most important productions are Glass’s trilogy Satyagraha, Akhnaten and Einstein on the Beach in Stuttgart between 1981 and 1988; the trilogy Metamorphosen des Ovid, Woyzeck and Phaeton at the Vienna Burgtheater between 1987 and 1991; six productions of Die Zauberflöte, including one at the Hamburg State Opera in 1982 and another at the Salzburg Festival in 1997; Der Ring des Nibelungen in Los Angeles in 2009—10 and in Mannheim in 2011—13; Moses und Aron in Zurich (2011); Heinz Holliger’s Schneewittchen in Basel (2013); Lucia Ronchetti’s Esame di mezzanotte in Mannheim (2015); Sciarrino’s Luci mie traditrici at the 2015 Vienna Festival; Fidelio at the 2016 Vienna Festival; and Abschlussball at the Berliner Ensemble in 2016. Productions in 2018/19 included Szenen aus Goethes Faust and Parsifal at the Hamburg State Opera and E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Der goldene Topf at the Stuttgart Schauspiel. His films Reise ins Blaue (1991) and MET AMOR PH OSEN (1992) were shown at the Nice and Munich Film Festivals and at the Berlinale.
Achim Freyer is a founding member of the Free Academy of Arts in Leipzig and a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, of the Saxon Academy of Arts, of the German Academy of the Performing Arts in Bensheim and of the Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts.
He held a professorship at the University of the Arts in Berlin from 1976 to 1999. His work has been seen at countless exhibitions, including documenta 6 (1977), documenta 8 (1987) and Art Allemagne aujourd’hui at the Musée d’art moderne in Paris (1981). He has also held several one-man shows, notably at the Academy of Arts in Berlin (1994), the Kornwestheim Gallery (1992), the Ulrike Hrobsky Gallery in Vienna (2002, 2004/05, 2008, 2011, 2014/15 and 2016), the ACE Gallery in Los Angeles (2010), the Mannheim Kunstverein (2013), the Brunnhofer Gallery in Linz (2016) and at the ART SPACE stift millstatt (2019). He founded the Freyer Ensemble in 1991 and the Achim Freyer Foundation in Berlin in 2012. Among the many international awards that he has received are the Gold Medal of the Prague Quadriennale for a retrospective of his theatre work (1999), the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the People’s Republic of Poland, the prize of the Italian Associazione Nazionale Critici Musicali, the German Order of Merit (First Class), the German theatre award Der Faust for his stage designs for Esame di mezzanotte and the Nestroy Prize as a lifetime achievement award.