ART FUN FACTS
The Mona Lisa has her own mailbox in the Louvre because of all the love letters she receives. Over the years many have fallen prey to the portrait’s ‘limpid and burning eyes’, leaving her offerings of flowers, poems and, yes, love notes. Artist Luc Maspero allegedly took this fervour to a new high – and then low – in 1852, diving off a hotel balcony because “For years I have grappled desperately with her smile. I prefer to die.” Who knew art appreciation could be so dark?
The colour wheel predates the United States. Considering the US is one of the oldest modern democracies, this is pretty amazing. Sir Isaac Newton invented the colour wheel in 1706 by refracting white sunlight into its six colours. The realisation that light alone was responsible for colour was radical, and the wheel proved especially useful for artists, who could now easily observe the most effective colour complementation.
Artist Willard Wigan once inhaled his own work. What’s that, you say? He inhaled a painting?? The man must be enormous! Not quite. Wigan’s works are ‘micro-sculptures’, so tiny they must be viewed through a microscope. In creating his art, Wigan has to slow his heartbeat and work between pulses. The work he inhaled was Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, but apparently she was even better when remade.
In 2003 street artist Banksy stuck his own work to the wall in the Tate Modern Museum. The prank was soon undone by its inadequate glue, but for a few hours Crimewatch UK Has Ruined the Countryside For All of Us was hung in one of the world’s most famous museums. It also inspired Andrzej Sobiepan, a Polish art student, to a similar feat in 2005, where for three days he successfully passed off his work as part of the National Museum’s collection.
Painting the Mona Lisa’s lips took Leonardo da Vinci 12 years! Only the lips!
Roman Statues were made with detachable heads. One head could be taken off and replaced by yet another one.
Pablo Picasso was an animal lover. He owned a pet monkey, a goat, an owl, a turtle and packs of dogs and cats.
In 1565, the first pencil was invented in England.
Andy Brown, an English artist, stitched together 1000 used tea bags, to create a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
Everyone is born creative.
The Starry Night was painted in a psych ward.
The Art Institute of Chicago has a real-life replica of Van Gogh’s bedroom painting. If you ever feel like you need some creative inspiration, try and remember these art facts. The bedroom is available for rent on Airbnb for $10 a night. The Art Institute states that it hopes to help open fresh eyes and perspectives to the painting.
There are technically five separate versions of Expressionist artist Edvard Munch’s most famous work, The Scream.
The Mona Lisa was not famous until it was stolen.
There are 12 definitions of the word ‘art’ in the Oxford Dictionary.
Picasso believed that art is done to wash away the dust of our daily lives from our souls.
Van Gogh has only sold one painting during his lifetime.
The Easter Island heads have bodies.
New Jersey features a spoon museum.
The largest statue in the world is the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Mount Rushmore began construction in 1927 and was completed 14 years later in 1941. It features the heads of four former presidents of the United States. These include George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson.
Banksy is the most famous graffiti artist in the world, but no one knows his real name.
Leonardo da Vinci was ambidextrous. Leonardo da Vinci was known to be able to write with one hand while simultaneously drawing with the other. Researchers were able to conclude this by observing certain writings in his works that were mirrored or written backward on one side and normal on the other.
The Thinker was originally much smaller. The first original sculpture of the thinker was originally much smaller. It was only around 70cm originally and was gradually made bigger and bigger. Several copies were made over time ranging in sizes and variants.
Mary Cassat advocated for her learning. During her time in school, women were not yet given equal rights and female artists were not taken seriously. Frustrated, she left school and hired a private teacher which led her to create works that she became recognized for.
Da Vinci’s other most famous work—which can be seen in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy—originally included Jesus’ feet. But in 1652, while installing a doorway in the refectory where the painting is on view, builders cut into the bottom-center of the mural, lopping off Jesus’ feet.
Broadway Boogie Woogie, Dutch artist Piet Mondrian moved to New York City in 1940, and would base his famous work Broadway Boogie Woogie on the iconic grid layout of the city’s streets.