Leave it to the brilliant minds at Pentagram to come up with something as unique and captivating as “The Couch: Thinking in Repose,” an exhibit which opened last week in Vienna at the Sigmund Freud Museum. Headed up by Abbott Miller, a partner in Pentagram’s New York office, the exhibit helps commemorate the 150th anniversary of the uber-famous analysist’s birth. And what’s in it? Couches, and lots of them, in addition to all things couch-related-art, line the the top floor, which was left exactly as it was when Freud and his wife lived in the building. Here’s the whole scoop and a couple of photos:
“The Couch” examines how a simple piece of furniture became synonymous with psychoanalysis. The exhibition traces the various threads of significance tied to this everyday household object and its history as a therapeutic instrument, a site of free association and a vehicle of poetic production.
…The exhibition has left the apartment in its original condition–scuffed and smudged walls, picture hooks and plumbing fixtures all intact–to refer to the traces of its former inhabitant. An elevated platform guides visitors through the space, as though in an archaeological ruin. Freud’s metaphor of psychoanalysis as excavation, and his own collection of archaeological treasures, are given concrete form through the presentation and setting. The exhibition also utilizes projections of the oriental carpets Freud draped on the couch and used as decor in his consulting room and study.
A variety of furniture for reclining is displayed, ranging from the wooden divan of the 1873 World Expo to a daybed designed by Otto Wagner. Everyday objects and images from the former Purkersdorf Sanatorium and the Baumgartner Hohe Hospital are combined with historic psychiatry films to depict typical treatment methods of Freud’s era, which are contrasted with his office and consulting room, where antiquities and oriental carpets awaited his patients. Artworks by Odilon Redon, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Andy Warhol (his 1964 film “Couch”) and Rachel Whiteread demonstrate the couch’s path from bourgeois interior design to object of contemplation for the avante-garde.