Wednesday, December 31, 2008

UPDATED: The Pending End of the "Up Is Down" Era

UPDATED with the answers and a very embarrassing admission

Helping a friend bubble wrap a large abstract painting the other day, I recalled how many times I've been in a studio of a painter who works in abstraction and had one of two experiences. Either it had been years since I had seen a particular abstract piece but upon noticing it again realized, often to the artist's surprise, that it was upside down (my one and only memory parlor trick) ... or ... I watched as the artist his/herself tried to recall which was the correct orientation of a piece. Together those experiences might suggest I find it odd that artists sometimes forget the orientation of an abstract piece, but my parlor trick is inconsistent enough that I actually totally empathize.

Toward that end, and as my parting gift to 2008 (what a wild and in so many ways awful year it's been), I offer the following highly irreverent quiz (with sincere apologies to the artists). Among these well known works, can you tell which is upside right and which is upside down? I've ordered them according to what I consider easiest to hardest and I should note that in a few instances the image has been cropped ever so slightly to remove a tell-tale signature or other indication:

A. Kasimir Malevich: (correct)

B: Georges Braque (Upside down)

C: Barnett Newman (upside down)

D: Jasper Johns (correct)

E: Jackson Pollock (correct)

F: Joan Miró (correction: Image that had been here was actually a parody of a Miró, NOT an actual bad. What I get for taking short cuts). It was upside down, but I've deleted it to not further my offense to the parodying artist.

G: Wassily Kandinsky (correct)

H: Kasimir Malevich (upside down)

I'll post the answers next year.

Have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2009 everyone!

Labels: art quiz


Blogger joy said...

good god: they all seem very "upside down" to me (esp. the Braque) except for the Johns and the Miro.

happy new year!

12/31/2008 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Believe it or not, the Miro is actually upside down (that's my only give away answer).

12/31/2008 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

I should have known! tricky tricky...

I forget who it was that got me to turn my canvases (in progress) upside down in order to check for badly dealt-with areas ("blind spots"). I did that for years and years, but I don't anymore. It was fun and quite useful for a while.

12/31/2008 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Annie B said...

Of course the only one I was absolutely sure was right side up was the Miro. Happy new year!

12/31/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher/Mark said...

ɹɐǝʎ ʍǝu ʎddɐɥ

12/31/2008 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

how did you do that?

12/31/2008 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


ʇdıɹɔs ǝɥʇ punoɟ...puıɯɹǝʌǝu

12/31/2008 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

They all look upside down to me except the Johns. Abstract painters still tend to paint gravity; the heavy red form in the 'upper right' of the Miro gives it away.

Happy new year!

12/31/2008 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous nick said...

Even songwriters sometimes forget the lyrics to their own songs so its more about memory and/or age rather than indiscriminate choices.....

happy new year!

12/31/2008 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One time, as art director at a small college magazine, I put several images of paintings upside down. The painter, a major contributor to the college's endowment who had submitted the transparencies unmarked, wanted my head!

Hope to see you all at Pocket Utopia" in January.

--Sharon @ Two Coats of Paint"

12/31/2008 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Ed, you devil.

I'm with PL: They all look upside down except the Johns. (The Johns is definitely right side up.)

Adding to Sharon's comment: I once had a short-lived experience with a Midwest dealer who did an exhibition catalog of my work; every image was printed upside down--except the one that wasn't in the show.

May our next trip around the sun come with great joy, good health, and--hey, why not ask?--fabulous opportunities, critical acclaim and boomtown sales.

12/31/2008 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

They all look upside down

The power of suggestion, I guess.

OK, one other hint: 4 of them are NOT upside down.

12/31/2008 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Charles Browning said...

Okay, Ed, I'll bite.

My guesses:

A Malevich up
B Braque down
C Newman down
D Johns up
E Pollock down
F Miro up (you gave me that one)
G Kandinsky up
H Malevich down

Happy New Year, everyone! Best of luck in 2009! May we all find our personal Eli Broad to donate to our cause!

12/31/2008 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

good guesses Charles. two wrong.

I noted the Miro is "actually upside down" though.

Based on that, only one of your other guesses if off.

12/31/2008 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous me have the dum said...

oops - you said the Miro was down!

Damn you, Winkleman!

Okay, okay. . . ummmm, lets see, four are down so . . .

switch the Miro with the Pollock.


12/31/2008 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

er, that should be "only one of your other guesses is off.

12/31/2008 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

switch the Miro with the Pollock.


12/31/2008 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it looks like the Newman is the only one that's right....

anyway..Happy New Year


12/31/2008 06:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Bambino said...

I know the right answers :P

But gotta go to celebrate New Year!!


12/31/2008 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger lookinaroundbob said...

bettcha Pollock wouldn't know which way his goes.

1/01/2009 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Kathy Hodge said...

Here's my guess
A. correct
B. upside down
C. upside down
D. correct
E. correct
F. upside down (that bird's eye fooled me at first)
G. upside down
H. correct

Happy New Year! Let's hope the country is right side up this year.

1/02/2009 10:19:00 AM  

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