Vertical Gallery V - Horst Wackerbarth: The red couch

The Red Couch

A bright red couch travels around the world, and now awaits discovery in Dusseldorf, the city of art. From 10 April to 6 June 2014 the luxury and lifestyle hotel InterContinental Dusseldorf presents images from the entire Red Couch project by the renowned photographer Horst Wackerbarth in VERTICAL GALLERY V. Germany’s only vertical exhibition of pictures on 11 storeys thus enters its fifth round, once again bringing a well-known international artist to the gallery. “Many great personalities have taken a seat on Wackerbarth’s couch. The former head of state Mikhail Gorbachev, for example, and the musicians Herbert Grönemeyer and Peter Gabriel, to name only a few. He has pointed his camera at people from many nations, religions and cultures. With this project he has created his own science of humankind and its development, and we are delighted to be able to present these extraordinary images in the framework of an extraordinary exhibition”, says Ronald Hoogerbrugge, hotel director of the InterContinental Dusseldorf.

The exhibition opening takes place on 9 April 2014 at 7pm in the presence of the artist and the curator Werner Lippert. From 10 April it is open round the clock in the InterContinental Dusseldorf for all Dusseldorfers and art lovers. As a special highlight the original Red Couch will be on show for a short time in the hotel before it once again leaves Dusseldorf, the city of art where Wackerbarth lives and works. Since the late 1970s Wackerbarth, who has adopted Dusseldorf as his home town, has been travelling around the world with his Red Couch, which he places in the living environment of various people, then takes a portrait of them sitting on it and asks them twelve universal questions about work, happiness, love and death. His aim is to create an oeuvre of portraits, a gallery of humankind. The Red Couch is the common denominator, the thread running through everything, a stage, throne and platform for communication all at the same time. Young and old, rich and poor, celebrities and unknowns, Nobel Prize-winners and illiterates – to date more than 700 people in 51 countries have taken a seat on the Red Couch and answered in 53 languages the universal questions that Wackerbarth puts to his protagonists while making a video recording. Only one couch is on its travels at any one time. Three have been lost: one fell into the Pacific when a ship manoeuvred rashly, one was burnt during a photo session with firefighters, and the third was mistaken for garbage by museum workers and thrown away. The couch that holds the honour at present has been in use since 1996. It is the sofa on which most of Wackerbarth’s subjects have sat, and is re-covered from time to time. A full restoration was needed twice following the attentions of lions and polar bears.

The Red Couch is a work in progress, a never-ending story. 52 portraits from this remarkable series will be on display for 18 weeks in the InterContinental Dusseldorf, turning every single floor of the hotel into a vertical cultural hot-spot.

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