A Mondrian painting has hung upside down for 77 years

New York City I, one of Mondrian’s last paintings, has been exhibited upside down since its creation. It is now impossible to put it back in the right direction, otherwise it will be damaged.

A painting by Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian has hung upside down for 77 years, reports The Guardian. The painting, titled New York City Ihowever, will continue to be hung in this way, to avoid damaging it.

Made in 1941, New York City I is made from rolls of colored tape. This painting, one of its author’s last, was exhibited at the MoMa in New York between 1945 and 1980.

The work has since joined the collection of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. It is exhibited in the Kunstsammlung museum in Düsseldorf.

“It was evident”

It was curator Susanne Meyer-Büser who spotted the mistake when preparing a new exhibition about the artist: “The part dense in paint, which looks like a dark sky, should be placed at the top”, he said. she told the Guardian.

“Once I pointed it out to the other Tories we realized it was obvious,” she told the BBC. “It’s very possible that this picture is hung in the wrong way.”


The curator cites several pieces of evidence to support her hypothesis. Table New York Citymade by Mondrian in 1942, and very similar to New York City Iis notably exhibited at the Center Pompidou in Paris with the thick part at the top.

Susanne Meyer-Büser also cites a photograph from Mondrian’s studio taken in 1944 a few days before his death. We see New York City I with the constricted lines placed at the top. However, it is now impossible to hang it the right way round:

“The tapes have loosened a lot and they are only hanging by a thread”, explained Susanne Meyer-Büser to the Guardian. “If we flipped the painting, gravity would tilt them in another direction. And that’s now part of its history.”

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