1960s and 1970s Sound Lab: Creamcheese

The haunt of famous artists like Joseph Beuys

Düsseldorf Art Academy by U. Otte / Düsseldorf Tourismus GmbHVisit Düsseldorf

The Düsseldorf Academy of Art looks back on an approximately 300-year history. The academy was the school and workplace of globally renowned artists such as Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, and Andreas Gursky, to name a few. After the Second World War, they reconsidered the concept of art. Art abandoned the ivory towers, advanced into the public sphere, and became the driver of innovative music. The stage of this collective expansion of minds was the artist local Creamcheese, which also attracted international pop stars.

In the 1960s, Düsseldorf enjoyed a reputation of being a Paris on the Rhine in the international art scene. Members of the experimental ZERO movement, such as Heinz Mack and Otto Piene who risked starting again in the art world, gained a lot of attention in particular. In 1950, they were joined by Günther Uecker.


LIFE Photo Collection

During a trip to New York, artist Günther Uecker experienced Frank Zappa's live shows and got to know Andy Warhol's happenings. The idea of a special kind of dance local came to him, which he wanted to conceptualize in Düsseldorf together with filmmaker Lutz Mommartz and media artist Ferdinand Kriwet.

In July 1967, the local was opened in an urban building at Neubrückstraße 12. The gastronomy side was managed by husband-and-wife duo "Achim" and "Bim" Reinert. The name of the old town local was Creamcheese. The name comes from a fictional character by US musician Frank Zappa and his band The Mothers of Invention: Suzy Creamcheese.
Almost 50 years later, in 2015, Düsseldorf gained a Frank Zappa street. The street sign is regularly stolen as a souvenir and has to be replaced.

Projection of Ferdinand Kriwets "Rundschreibenfragmenten", Creamcheese 21.07.1967 by Kunstpalast Düsseldorf / © Foto: Hans Hemann, © Werk: Nachlass Ferdinand KriwetVisit Düsseldorf

The artists designed the interior. An inflated rubber duck by Konrad Fischer-Lueg hung from the ceiling, and a 20-meter long bar by Heinz Mack ran through the space. Kriwet projected lyrics arranged in circles onto the audience using round disks. It all came together to form a complete work of art.

Front of Creamcheese invitation card, Kunstpalast Düsseldorf / © Werk: Nachlass Ferdinand Kriwet, From the collection of: Visit Düsseldorf
Art in Creamcheese: Adolf Luther, Spiegelobjekt 1967, Kunstpalast Düsseldorf / © Werk: Adolf Luther/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 / © Foto: Bernd Jansen/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020, From the collection of: Visit Düsseldorf
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The Creamcheese manifesto worded by Uecker and Kriwet established their plan. "We should get out of our shells to transform our environment," Günther Uecker suggests. Art became public.

Creamcheese Manifest, Kunstpalast Düsseldorf / © Werk: Nachlass Ferdinand Kriwet / Günther Uecker / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020, From the collection of: Visit Düsseldorf
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By Alfred EisenstaedtLIFE Photo Collection

In the evenings, Achim Reinert stood at the door wearing a black leather jacket and holding a cashbox . International art legend Joseph Beuys was a regular. Behind the bar were his students Blinky Palermo, Imi Knoebel, and Katharina Sieverding, all of whom are now internationally renowned artists.

The bar of Heinz Mack at Creamcheese 1967, Kunstpalast Düsseldorf / © Werk: Heinz Mack/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 / © Foto: Bernd Jansen/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020, From the collection of: Visit Düsseldorf
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Kraftwerk Poster Creamcheese 1970 by Eberhard KranemannVisit Düsseldorf

Creamcheese's door was left open to innovative musicians: current legends such as Tangerine Dream from Berlin and Can played live at Creamcheese. Can came from the cathedral city of Cologne, also on the Rhine. Even Kraftwerk performed there in 1970 with an early line-up.

LIFE Photo Collection

Namesake Zappa got to know Günther Uecker during his stays in New York. Of course, Frank Zappa couldn't not visit the old town local at the start of the 1970s after his concerts at the Philipshalle.

The Creamcheese is invited to be a guest at the "documenta" in 1968. There, they run a replica of the cult club with a dance floor, music and film projections. 

In 1976, the Creamcheese makes way for a renovation of the Neubrückstraße building and moves to Flinger Straße 11 as "CREAM". The success of previous years fails to materialize, and an era comes to an end for Düsseldorf with the closing of the club in the summer of 1979. Today, the original interior furnishings are in the depot of the Düsseldorf Kunstpalast exhibition.

Former employees and guests organize Creamcheese happenings several times a year since the end of 1979 and, together with Achim Reinert, found the non-profit association CREAMCHEESE e.V. in 2006. Since then, the association has been taking care of the memory of this special Düsseldorf institution.

Event „CREAMCHEESE zu Gast im Malkasten“, CREAMCHEESE® Klaus Schröder©, From the collection of: Visit Düsseldorf
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Credits: Story

CREAMCHEESE e.V. (www.creamcheese-ev.de). Curated by Sven-André Dreyer and Dr. Michael Wenzel, editorial assistance Thorsten Schaar (Visit Düsseldorf). Participating institutions: Cultural Office of the State Capital Düsseldorf, City Archive Düsseldorf, Heinrich Heine Institute, City Museum Düsseldorf, Tonhalle Düsseldorf gGmbH

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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