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A painting by Piet Mondrian hung upside down for 77 years: here’s what could explain the error

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UA painting by Dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian has been hanging the wrong way for 77 years, officials at the Kunstsammlung museum in Dusseldorf, where it is currently on display, discovered this week.

A major retrospective of the Dutch painter began on Saturday in this establishment, culminating in the presentation of the painting “New York City 1”, produced in 1941.

However, this painting is displayed upside down, the museum revealed this week. “In a photo from 1944, I saw that the canvas was the other way around on an easel. It intrigued me, ”said Susanne Meyer-Büser, the curator of the exhibition, in an interview with the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday.

The painting, made up of several red, yellow and blue strokes intersecting at right angles, was then exhibited at New York’s Moma “a year later”, the wrong way round, according to Meyer-Büser. When it was transferred to the Düsseldorf museum in 1980, the painting was rearranged in the same way. The error could come from the fact that “the painting had no signature”, according to Ms. Meyer-Büser. Its meaning was therefore determined by “the name of the artist inscribed on the back of the frame by the administrator of the estate”, at the time of Mondrian’s death in 1944.

Piet Mondrian, born in 1872, is one of the main figures of the Dutch artistic movement called “De Stijl” (“The style”, in French), known for its horizontal and vertical lines and its primary colors.

In 1940, the painter left for the United States in New York. The rectilinear grids of his paintings are inspired by the layout and skyscrapers of the American city.

He is known worldwide for his canvas “Victory Boogie Woogie”, considered one of the most important works of the 20th century.