Hey, art enthusiasts and curious minds! We’re back with another peek into “Mandela Effects” in art. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Mandela Effects are those peculiar instances where a collective group of people remember something differently from how it actually happened. Today, we’re delving into four more mysterious cases of art-related Mandela Effects that may make you question reality. If you’re new here, check out part one, 7 Strange Art Mandela Effects and then come back here to check out these additional art mysteries and ponder the question: Did history change, or do we just have terrible memories?
1. Vincent Van Gogh’s Mysterious Starry Night(s) Mandela Effect
You’ve undoubtedly heard of Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece, “Starry Night.” Recently, Starry Night has popped up in relation to the Mandela Effect, with people online claiming that the famous painting has somehow changed.
But did you know there’s another version entitled “Starry Night (over the Rhone)”?
The fact that there are actually two Starry Nights might be the source of many peoples’ confusion over how they remember this particular artwork. Over on Reddit, there is a long thread of people arguing over whether the Starry Night painting has changed. According to many on the thread, the Starry Night that exists now is not the one they remember from the past. Changes people mention include the number of swirls in the center of the painting (was there two? three? more?) and the way the stars are painted.
Other changes mentioned include the colors in the painting being wrong or more muted, and the placement of some of the items in the painting. This brings us to the Starry Night’s sister painting, Starry Night Over the Rhone. While this version is obviously visually different from the original Starry Night, there are some clear similarities in colors and the placement of many glowing stars.
This painting obviously doesn’t have the “Wow” factor of the original painting, but if people have seen images of both, it isn’t too far fetched to believe that the two images could have elements blended together in their memories.
However, it doesn’t seem like they are similar enough for people to mistake one for the other enough to cause a Mandela Effect, in my opinion.
Many art aficionados swear they remember only one version or have never seen Starry Night (on the Rhone). They insist that the version they picture when thinking of the Starry Night doesn’t quite match what the painting looks like in online images. Is it memory . . . or a glitch in the art matrix?
(One side note I would like to make that wasn’t a factor when I wrote the original Mandela Effect article in 2020 but has become extremely prevalent as I write this article in 2023 is the massive spread of AI images across the Internet. It is entirely possible that people saw an AI generated version of the Starry Night painting and this is why they are confused. An AI Starry Night would be similar to the painting but have enough differences to give off that “uncanny valley” feeling of something being just a little bit off.
As someone who has worked fairly extensively with AI generation, I have learned to very quickly spot an image that is AI and not photographic, but the large majority of viewers of these images literally have no clue they are not looking at an actual photograph).
2. The Thinker’s Pose Predicament: Auguste Rodin’s iconic sculpture “The Thinker”
This sculpture has caused people some confusing mental gymnastics. Some insist that they recall the statue with a closed fist under the chin, while others remember the hand placed on the forehead.
As it stands right now, the iconic bronze statue of a naked man sits with the back of his hand pressed to his mouth.
There seems to be a lot of evidence that the statue is supposed to have his fist to his forehead, historically. One of the most compelling arguments that the forehead pose is correct is the photograph of George Bernard Shaw from 1906 by photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn. In the photograph, Shaw is posed naked in the classic Thinker pose many of us remember: he has his left arm curled up and is resting his forehead on his closed fist.
Why is this signifigant? Because the idea for the photograph was suggested by Shaw to Coburn on the night the Thinker statue was unveiled, as both men had attended the event and Shaw wanted the photo to capture him in the classic Thinker pose.
In many written works, from novels to non-fiction books, throughout the time since the statue became well-known, several different authors have described the pose of their subjects as “The Thinker” pose if they have their fist to their forehead. This ranges from The Men’s Health Guide To Peak Conditioning to a novel by Garrison Keillor.
This one has me curious – since there is so much evidence that most people who viewed The Thinker (even people who saw the statue on the night it was unveiled) believe the correct pose is fist to forehead, I wonder why the actual position of the hand is such a shock? Surely we can’t all be remembering it wrong – or could we?
Which version is etched in your memory?
3. Madonna, Infant, and the UFO: Mandela Effect or Angel?
Art experts and enthusiasts alike have been baffled by an unexpected visitor in a classic painting of the Madonna with the infant and St. John. A UFO mysteriously appeared in the background, leaving many to wonder whether this is just another creative interpretation of the heavens or a true Mandela Effect anomaly.
With this painting, it’s not that the painting is said to have changed over time, because it has literally been referred to as “Madonna of the Flying Saucer,” but it’s the mere fact that the timeline has people scratching their heads. This work was thought to have been painted in the early 16th century.
It is located in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florance, Italy, in the Hall of Hercules. The exact artist is unknown, but a caption under the round, golden framed painting leads scholars to believe it could be Sebastiano Mainardi, Jacopo del Sellaio or Filippo Lippi. It originally came from the convent of Sant’Orsola in the district of San Lorenzo.
So the question becomes: why does an early 16th century religious painting have a guy looking at a UFO in the background?
A possible explaination comes from the style of paintings during this time. Many paintings depicted religious figures and the “UFO” could simply be this artist’s depiction of an angel coming down from the heavens.
The painting itself is structured to other similer religious paintings of the time, and although many have depicted angels as floating or flying human-like figures, it is not out of the realm of possibility that this angel is painted as a glowing cloud-like object. It would stand to reason that the man and dog in the background gazing in awe are looking at a descending angel, and not an Unidentified Flying Object.
To say this is a Mandela Effect is a reach, in my opinion, but what do you think?
4. Van Gogh’s Ear: Fact or Fiction?
One of the most well-known stories about Van Gogh is that he cut off his ear and sent it to a love interest. But did you know that the truth might not align with this tale?
In 1888, Van Gogh moved to Arles in the south of France to stay at the “Yellow House.” While there, he painted some 300 paintings, but his time there was not a happy and peaceful time.
He invited fellow painter Paul Gauguin to join him and they both painted together for nearly three months but their relationship was tumultuous. Gauguin threatened to leave several times, and in December of that year, everything came to a head for Van Gogh.
He was dealing with several possible mental health issues including psychosis, depression and bipolar disorder. He had an argument with Gauguin on December 23, after which Gauguin left the house. Van Gogh was pretty worked up and followed after his friend, but not without grabbing a straight razor first.
He intended to hurt Gauguin with it, but instead turned around, went back home and proceeded to cut off part of his ear with the razor. He wrapped his head up and took the ear to a brothel, where he gave it to a woman who worked there as a maid, Gabrielle Berlatier. The next day he was hospitalized and Gauguin left for good, heading to Paris with his bags packed.
The above is the “official” version of what happened to Van Gogh’s ear, but there are several proposed alternate versions, one being that Gauguin actually cut off his ear and the pair covered it up; or that Van Gogh was distraught over his brother Theo’s marriage.
Clearly, the official story has no romantic love interest in sight, as Van Gogh was not involved with or seeing anyone at the time. Yet so many people have told the story that Van Gogh mailed his cut ear to his beloved, so where did this story come from?
If you’ve ever played the game “Telephone,” you know that stories told and retold can become very exaggerated very quickly. The fact that he took the ear to a random 18-year-old maid in a brothel is a strange move, and as we all know, speculation can run rampant. Gossip and rumor could have caused this story to spiral out of control.
So could the version of the story where a mentally ill man simply cut off his own ear during a psychotic breakdown be the real version? Truth is stranger than fiction, after all.
Were You Surprised by These Art Mandela Effects?
Art, like memory, is a wonderfully complex and subjective realm. These Mandela Effects remind us that the human mind can play tricks even with our most cherished artworks. Do any of these strange art Mandela Effects resonate with you, or have you experienced any other artistic enigmas of your own? Let’s keep the conversation going – leave me your thoughts in the comments section!
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