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

A famous artwork by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian has been displayed upside down for 75 years.



AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Hey, Juana. Are you a fan of abstract art?

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

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

CHANG: I know. I feel like everyone pretends to find something profound in it, but a lot of people, even so-called experts, find it disorienting.

SUMMERS: What do you mean?

CHANG: Well, it turns out an artwork by Piet Mondrian has been displayed upside down for more than 75 years.

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

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

SUMMERS: So that doesn’t sound like it has an obvious top or bottom to it.

CHANG: Right.

SUMMERS: So how did they figure out that the top was the bottom?

CHANG: Well, Susanne Meyer-Büser noticed the mistake. She’s an art curator in Dusseldorf, Germany. And she talked to Reuters about the work.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SUSANNE MEYER-BUSER: (Speaking German).

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

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MEYER-BUSER: (Speaking German).

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

CHANG: I know.

SUMMERS: Are they going to flip it around?

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

SUMMERS: All right. Well, I guess we’re just all going to have to flip ourselves over and do handstands in front of this painting to check it out.

CHANG: (Laughter).

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

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