Turning the Modern Art World Upside-Down

Admittedly, the Commonplace Fun Facts editorial department is not exactly a paragon of cultural sophistication. This is especially true when it comes to the phenomenon known as Modern Art. For this reason, we tend to delight in those situations that confirm our belief that the experts in this field are more delusional than they are cultured.

The Fossil Hunters by Edwin Dickinson (click image to expand)

Our official position is that you can’t tell whether a painting is upside-down, it’s probably not worth looking at right-side-up.

Case in point, we present The Fossil Hunters by Edwin Dickinson. When it went on display in 1928, the curators of the museum hung it sideways. The mistake went unnoticed for some time.

Le Bateau, by Henri Matisse (Click image to expand).

A similar situation took place in 1947 at the Museum of Modern Art. Le Bateau by Henri Matisse was displayed upside-down for 47 days before anyone noticed.

Both of these paintings appear in this article. We think we have them oriented correctly, but who can tell?

Our favorite example is a painting that we have been unable to locate. We hope one of our readers can direct us to a copy. The painting is called Pink Lillies and was created by Margaret Gest. The reason we like this one is because it was accidentally displayed upside-down during a competition in 1936. Despite this, it still won a prize.

These examples support our opening premise, which is further articulated through one of our favorite comic strips, Bloom County:

Bloom County, September 8, 1985, by Berke Breathed. Image compliments of (click image to expand)

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