Around the last turn of the century before the last, Munich was the centre of attraction for many unusual personalities who sometimes set an architectural signal in the town. Read more about a still well remembered building…
The “Atelier Elvira” was founded in 1887 by Anita Augspurg and her friend Sophie Goudstikker as a photo studio. It was located in the Von-der-Tann-Strasse 15, right across “Prinz Carl Palais”, and was the first German company founded and run by women. Both women were remarkable personalities and stood out not only by their way of life and their appearance but as well as through their fight for women’s rights.
The customers did not mind – the studio was a success from the beginning. It´s customers were not only wealthy citizens , but also members of nobility and court and state officials. In 1897, Augspurg and Goudstikker decided to build a new building, which was discussed controversially. In particular, the facade was commented on: it was called “a dragon castle”, built in “polyp-style rococo”. In fact, the facade does not show dragons , shellfish or mermaids. It represents feelings that are transferred by the design of shapes: strength, lightness , playfulness.
Soon after the completion of the house, the two women separated. In 1907, Augspurg sold her share to Goudstikker who then leased the studio. In the fall of 1933, a SA unit moved into the house , and later on, in the course of the remodeling of the Von-der -Tann-Straße , it served as a canteen. The building was destructed in the war. After the war, the State of Bavaria acquired the property and left it to the United States for the construction of its Consulate General building. What remained, was the memory of the most famous art deco work in Munich.
Anita Augspurg was an actress, photographer and doctor of law. Around the turn of the 20th century she played an active role in Berlin for Women’s Rights in the Civil Code: she brought in petitions for the new matrimonial and family law , but with little effect. She also cooperated with Kurt Eisner and was named a member of the provisional Parliament after the proclamation of the Bavarian republic in 1918. In 1933, Augspurg did not return from a winter trip, because she feared reprisals from the NSDAP then come to power. The reason behind that was that in 1923, she had already applied for the expulsion of the Austrian citizen Adolf Hitler. So she lived until her death in 1943 together with her long-term companion Lida Gustava Heymann in exile in Switzerland.
The city of Munich awards annually since 1994 the Anita Augspurg Prize for activities around the promotion of equal rights for women.