His avant-garde use of primary colors, sharp angles and straight lines made him a leader in the abstract movement, but one of Piet Mondrian’s most famous works has hung upside down – probably for centuries. decades.
The Conservatives realized belatedly that NYC 1which the Dutch artist made while living in the United States in 1941, has hung erroneously since its first public exhibition over 75 years ago.
The mistake is perhaps forgivable, given that Mondrian did not sign the work and the lines of colored tape it features have no obvious top or bottom.
The clue that the work was improperly displayed comes from a photograph taken of the artist’s studio in New York in 1944.
In the photo, the artwork rests on an easel, with tightly grouped blue, yellow and red adhesive strips at the top.
On the other hand, it was always displayed with these stripes at the bottom.
The error was revealed by curators at a press conference on the eve of “Mondrian, Evolution”, an exhibition of the artist’s work at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen museum in Düsseldorf.
“Could it be that the orientation shown in the photo is the one Mondrian actually intended? said curator Susanne Meyer-Büser.
It had been wrongly hung since its first exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1945, she said.
It may have been turned the wrong way when unpacked by museum staff.
There’s another clue for what until now was considered the top of the image: the tape doesn’t reach the edge of the canvas.
Mondrian is said to have worked from the top down, becoming less disciplined about the application of the tape as he got to the base of the work. So the torn and torn ends should be at the bottom of the image, not at the top.
Despite the error discovered decades ago, the curators of the Düsseldorf exhibition decided to exhibit NYC 1 in the sense that it has always been shown – upside down.
The work is made up of fragile adhesive strips that have been hanging like this for more than seven decades.
“Maybe there is no right or wrong guidance at all,” Ms. Meyer-Büser said. “If I return it, I risk destroying it.”
The exhibition commemorates the 150e anniversary of the artist’s birth in 1872 and presents 90 works that trace his evolution from landscape painter to master of abstraction.
Mondrian’s Confusion isn’t the first time MoMA has exhibited an upside-down artwork, according to ARTnews.
In 1961, during an exhibition of paintings by Henri Matisse, a visitor noticed that his cut-out paper, The boatwas hung the wrong way.
The visitor, a Wall Street stockbroker, was initially fired by museum curators and reported the story to The New York Times.
Museum staff eventually realized she was right and turned the artwork the right way around. “It was just negligence,” said Monroe Wheeler, the exhibits manager at the time.
The mistake was only discovered after six weeks and went unnoticed not only by curators but by more than 100,000 visitors, including Matisse’s son, Pierre, an art dealer.
Born in Amersfoort in the Netherlands in 1872, Mondrian fled his home in Paris in 1938 as war threatened and moved to London.
When Nazi Germany began bombing London, he moved to New York again in 1940.
It was there that he produced some of his latest masterpieces, including NNew York City I and Broadway Boogie Woogie before his death in 1944.