The Flip Sides Of Famous Paintings

The Mona Lisa has a note reading “this way up”, Rembrandt’s Lucretia is screwed together with car parts, and Matisse’s “The Red Studio” is covered with chicken wire. These are the revelations of an exhibition at the Mauritshuis in The Hague, which displays a new side to some of the world’s most famous paintings, thanks to an intriguing series of artworks by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. The clue is in the name, Verso, meaning “the back” in Portuguese. In a special exhibition space in this museum of Dutch Golden Age art, different-sized frames lean casually against the walls, as though waiting to be hung. They include Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Gioconda” (the Mona Lisa), Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” and Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” These are not the originals but minutely recreated replicas of their flip-sides. There are also five new facsimiles on show based on works in the Mauritshuis collection, including Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “View of Delft,” as well as Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp” – which, it turns out, has a warning on the back about a rather nasty splinter.

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