File Photo: Margit Carstensen. Twitter
Carstensen died on Thursday in a hospital near Hamburg, the agent said, after a long illness.
She was best known for playing the titular role in Fassbinder's 1972 all-female "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant" -- a predatory narcissist who gets her comeuppance in an affair with a younger woman (Hanna Schygulla).
The performance won her a German Film Award.
Two years later the Kiel-born actor would headline in Fassbinder's drama about an abusive marriage, "Martha", followed by a series of movies exploring the trappings of traditional gender roles including "Chinese Roulette" and "Women in New York".
In a theatre career that saw her perform on the most prominent stages of Germany and Austria, Carstensen had a fruitful collaboration with iconoclastic director Christoph Schlingensief, who cast her as Magda Goebbels in "100 Years of Adolf Hitler".
He also directed her in a production of Elfriede Jelinek's "Bambiland" at Vienna's renowned Burgtheater in 2004, the same year Jelinek won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Her biggest commercial success was 1999's "Sonnenallee", a sweet-natured comedy about life in communist East Berlin in the 1970s.
Most recently, she joined Schygulla and Irm Hermann on the wildly popular German television crime series "Tatort" in which they portrayed a trio of older women who say they were morally compelled to murder.
In 2019 she accepted Germany's prestigious Goetz George lifetime achievement prize, with the jury praising her "intense and uncompromising performances, her transgressive portrayals and her focus... which invariably casts a spell over audiences".