Oops! 10 Times Famous Paintings Were Mistakenly Hung Upside Down

Kunst op zijn kop hangen

In my book – Thanks for Having me – I describe my action in 1997 to hang some artworks of the KLM Headquarters upside down.

Since no one ever talked about that art, I wanted to use that action to draw attention to this KLM Art Collection. Would anyone notice? Well, no.

They hung upside down unnoticed for years to come.

I had so much wanted the art committee to explain once a year about this collection with the lovely name. That was the friendly request.

“Don’t interfere,” was the KLM Art Commission’s reply.

Then I hung two more upside down.

As far as I know, they still are.

To be honest, I had already forgotten about it untill I came across the following article on Artnet: Article by Jo Lawson-Tancred, November 20, 2023.

Here are two of the stories of that article in my words.

Oops! 10 Times Famous Paintings Were Mistakenly Hung Upside Down

In some cases the errors went unnoticed for decades.

Article by Jo Lawson-Tancred, November 20, 2023

Van Gogh, Long Grass and Butterflies (1890)

It happened in 1965 in the National Gallery in London. In fact a funny story.

It was a 15-year-old schoolgirl who raised the alarm and proved her point by showing the attendants a postcard.

The work had been accidentally hung upside down after it was photographed, but thanks to the teenager’s keen eye this inversion didn’t last long—just fifteen minutes, in fact!

Henri Matisse, Le Bateau (1953)

Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.

The mistake was discovered in 1961 in a new MoMa exhibition “The Last Works of Matisse: Large Cut Gouaches,” When the paper cut-out was featured in a new MoMA exhibition nobody immediately noticed anything amiss about this abstracted, highly minimal rendering of a sailboat and its reflection, which uses just a few outlines and shapes.  However, 47 days later an unusually attentive Wall Street stockbroker called Genevieve Habert became convinced on her third visit that the work must have been flipped.                                                                                                                              “You don’t know what’s up and you don’t know what’s down and neither do we,” a guard apparently told her. The show’s catalog backed her suspicions, however, and she took the story  to the New York Times. By the time MoMA’s director of exhibitions agreed to take action the exhibition had already closed.


In mijn boek –THANKS FOR HAVING ME – beschrijf ik mijn actie uit 1997 om

enkele kunstwerken van het KLM Hoofdkantoor op zijn kop te hangen.

Omdat niemand ooit over die kunst sprak, wilde ik met de actie aandacht

vragen voor deze KLM Art Collection. Zou het iemand opvallen? Nee dus.

Ze hingen nog jarenlang onopgemerkt ondersteboven.

Ik had zo graag gewild dat de Art Commissie eens per jaar uitleg gaf over

deze verzameling met de chique naam. Dat was het vriendelijke verzoek.

‘Niet mee bemoeien’, was het antwoord van de Commissie .

Toen heb ik er nog twee op zijn kop gehangen. Zover ik weet is dat  

nog steeds zo. Eerlijk gezegd was ik het al weer vergeten totdat ik het

volgende artikel tegenkwam op Artnet :