NRW art collection: World-famous picture has been hanging upside down in the museum for decades without anyone noticing

With modern art, one asks oneself even more often than usual the classic question of what the artist actually wanted to say with it.

NRW art collection: World-famous picture has been hanging upside down in the museum for decades without anyone noticing

With modern art, one asks oneself even more often than usual the classic question of what the artist actually wanted to say with it. The interpretations then sometimes differ, but mostly you have at least a rough idea of ​​what you can see in the picture. In the case of the Dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian, even experts were disoriented.

For decades, his picture "New York City 1" hung in the art collection of North Rhine-Westphalia - apparently the wrong way around, as it now turned out. Admittedly, it's also not really easy to find out where the top and bottom of the work of art are. It only shows horizontal and vertical adhesive strips in different colors.

Nevertheless, the art historian Susanne Meyer-Büser thinks she discovered the error. She is curating the exhibition "Mondrian.Evolution" being shown at the museum to mark the artist's 150th birthday. She is also unable to 100% prove her thesis that the picture had been looked at the wrong way for so long. But some indications speak in favor of it, explained Meyer-Büser: For example, the comparison with a sister picture that looks almost the same and hangs in Paris. In addition, the adhesive strips on the side previously thought to be up were cut off uncleanly - which does not fit with the assumption that the artist was sticking from top to bottom.

During Mondrian's lifetime, the picture was hung the right way round, as shown by a photo taken a few days after his death in 1944. Only later was it turned around - apparently without anyone noticing the mistake. The work of art hung upside down in Düsseldorf for more than 40 years. That's how the world knows it, that's how it entered the art canon. And that's why Mondrian's image should remain in place - but from now on many museum visitors will have to crane their heads to be able to see it in its original form.

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