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A Piet Mondrian Painting Hung Upside Down for 77 Years

By: Jingwei Zhao

In a New York Museum, a painting by Piet Mondrian, an incredible Dutch abstract painter, art theoretician, and one of the most “influential” modern artists in the 20th century, has hung upside down for the past 77 years. New York City 1 was painted in 1941, just one year after he moved to New York City. Due to his death in 1944, Mondrian never got the opportunity to finish New York City 1, which resulted in the painting not being signed. When it was put on display at the Kuntsammlung museum in Germany, the workers accidentally put it upside down.

This mistake was only discovered when museum curator Susanne Meyer-Buser looked at a picture of Mondrian from 1944. She explained that “I (she) saw that the canvas was the other way around on an easel. It intrigued me...” According to an article by, “The way the picture is currently hung shows the multi-colored lines thickening at the bottom, with more space between the lines at the top.” After she pointed out this significant flaw to the museum, they quickly realized it.

Despite this issue, the painting cannot be flipped. As of right now, the painting is very fragile and can easily break. According to Ms. Meyer-Buser during an interview with The Guardian, “The adhesive tapes are already extremely loose and hanging by a thread. If you were to turn it upside down now, gravity would pull it into another direction. And it’s now part of the work’s story.” The painting can no longer be changed, and the damage is officially done. However, some may think that the painting’s incorrect hanging position makes it very versatile. It allows people to have more different and intriguing perspectives of it.

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