Apollo Theater, 1950

Apollo Theater, 1950
Watercolour, chalk, and India ink on paper, 19,5 x 14 cm

Around 1950, Ruth Baumgarte produced a cover design for the frequently but irregularly published programme of the Apollo Theater in Düsseldorf. From 1950, the theatre was managed by Baumgarte's father, Kurt Rupli.

The Apollo Theater had an eventful history. Built in 1898/99, the neo-baroque building at the corner of Königsallee and Adersstraße hosted light opera and comedy as well as music hall and circus performances. It welcomed stars such as the singer Zarah Leander, the jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong, the clown Charlie Rivel and the jazz musician Lionel Hampton. The local Düsseldorf theatre company then moved into the building between 1921 and 1925. In 1930, the façade was redone and modernised with straight lines and almost no decoration. The Apollo Theater was taken over by UFA in 1937. In 1942, it was destroyed by a firebomb and could no longer operate. The theatre was rebuilt in 1950 and successfully reopened. Alongside films, concerts, light opera and visiting productions such as that of the musical drama Porgy and Bess in 1956, the building also hosted carnival balls and conferences.

A number of different illustrators produced the various programme covers in the post-war years. For all of them, the focus was always on the striking building.

Ruth Baumgarte uses translucent watercolour and strong chalk strokes to give dynamism and vibrancy to the architecture. Angled slightly to the left and reduced to the basic elements of the façade, the image is full of energy – in keeping with what happens within its walls. Baumgarte skilfully exploits the eye-catching façade to make the building appear like an open eye. Of all the cover designs, Ruth Baumgarte's almost expressive image is the most artistic. It was used for several issues in 1952.

The Apollo Theater closed its doors for the last time in 1959 and was knocked down in 1966. The commercial and office building that now stands on the site was erected in the late 1960s.