Mondrian painting has hung upside down for 75 years, curator says

AA work of art by Dutch geometric and abstract painter Piet Mondrian has been hanging upside down for 75 years, according to a curator and art historian in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The artwork, an intricate latticework interwoven with red, black, yellow and blue tapes called New York isuspended with the glued lines thickening at the bottom, which are meant to be at the top and represent a simplified version of a horizon, said curator Susanne Meyer-Buser.

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“The grid thickening should be up high, like a dark sky,” Meyer-Buser told the Guardian. “Once I pointed it out to the other curators, we realized it was very obvious. I’m 100% sure the photo is the wrong way round.

A photograph of Mondrian’s workshop published in the magazine City and countryside in June 1944, shows the image sitting upright on an easel. A similar array called New York City by Mondrian which currently hangs in France also hangs with the thickening of the grid at the top, adding to the theory that the painting has hung upside down since its first exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1945.

“Was it a mistake when someone took the work out of its box? Has anyone been negligent when the work was in transit? Meyer-Buser asked. “It’s impossible to say.”

Fixing the problem, however, is not possible, according to the curator, as it could ruin the artwork due to paint wear.

“Adhesive tapes are already extremely loose and hanging by a thread,” Meyer-Büser said. “If you were to flip it now, gravity would pull it in another direction. And that’s now part of the story of the work.

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The painting has been on display in the art collection of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Düsseldorf since 1980 and will be a central part of a new exhibition which opens this weekend. Mondrian is considered one of the greatest modern artists of the 20th century and is known for his contributions to modernism, minimalism, expressionism and abstract styles. He also dabbled in cubism.

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