This painting has been displayed upside down for over 75 years. Finally, someone noticed: NPR


A famous work of art by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian has been on display upside down for 75 years.



AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Hi Juana. Are you a fan of abstract art?

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

I mean, it’s fine, but I have to be honest. I sometimes find it disorienting. Like, what am I actually looking at here?

Chang: I know. I feel like everyone is pretending to find something deep in it, but a lot of people, even so-called experts, find it confusing.

SUMMERS: What do you mean?

CHANG: Well, it turns out that a piece of art by Piet Mondrian has been on display upside down for over 75 years.

SUMMERS: OK, I’m an amateur, so that’s something I would do. But how did it happen?

CHANG: Well, you can’t totally blame them. You see; like, the artwork is a bunch of perpendicular strips of duct tape in red, blue, and yellow. It’s like a colored grid.

SUMMERS: So it doesn’t seem to have an obvious up or down.

CHANG: That’s right.

SUMMERS: So how did they know up was down?

CHANG: Well, Susanne Meyer-Büser noticed the mistake. She is an art curator in Düsseldorf, Germany. And she spoke to Reuters about the job.

(SOUND EXCERPT FROM AN ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SUSANNE MEYER-BUSER: (speaking German).

CHANG: She says that from the way these colored strips of tape were applied to the canvas, Mondrian must have worked the other way around, and therefore the art is actually hanging upside down.

(SOUND EXCERPT FROM AN ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MEYER-BUSER: (speaking German).

SUMMERS: Wow, that’s amazing detective work. So…

Chang: I know.

SUMMERS: Are they going to overthrow it?

CHANG: Well, actually, no, because the curator says gravity could actually damage those delicate strips of tape.

SUMMERS: Okay. Well, I guess we’re all going to have to turn around and do a handstand in front of this board to check it out.

CHANG: (Laughs).

(SOUNDBITE OF PHARRELL “I REALLY LIKE YOU (INSTRUMENTAL)”)

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