7 Famous Works of Art With Bizarre Mistakes You Can't Unsee
No one should be immune from criticism. Not even the great masters of the art world--they're humans just like the rest of us. So please indulge us while we take a look at lauded works of genius created by artists far, far more talented than we are, and laugh at them.
Once You See It, You Can't Unsee It
By the Cracked.com method of dating, the large Romanesque cross of Sand Damiano was made about four centuries before the events of Assassin's Creed 2. It is famous for being the cross that Saint Francis of Assisi prayed to before receiving his miraculous vision to reform the Roman Catholic Church.
Also, for inadvertently featuring a giant dong on the holiest figure in the Western world.
We should clarify: Since the San Damiano cross has become a standard for religious icons, its style has been reproduced for centuries. However, it was not until a few years ago at a church in Warr Acres, Oklahoma that somebody had looked at their reproduction and had one of those "once you see it, you can't unsee it" moments when looking at Christ's abdomen.
Take that, Satanism!
They actually forced the artist to re-paint it so it wouldn't look so much like a giant, cartoonish boner. But here's the thing; if you scroll up you'll find it's now impossible to not see a boner on the original.
Either this "unknown" artist from 12th century Umbria knew nothing about how abs work, or he played one of the greatest and most long-running pranks in the history of art.
#6. Norman Rockwell Gives a Man a Third Leg
People who know absolutely nothing about art can usually spot a Normal Rockwell painting from a mile away (it helps that they hang in the waiting rooms of dentists all around the globe). Rockwell was a machine; he created over 4,000 paintings, most in that distinctive, heartwarming style of old-timey Americans doing wholesome things.
His work for The Saturday Evening Post is a prime example of this. Every two weeks the man had to paint a new cover that, you know, perfectly captured the American spirit for that moment even better than the last issue. His classic People Reading Stock Exchange, featuring four people leaning over posted stock quotes, was one such cover. The only one, perhaps, featuring a grotesque deformity.
The kid in the red shirt has three legs. Two with their knees locked, an apparent third with the knee bent so that he can rest his hand on it:
We smell another dick joke coming.
This was a source of particular embarrassment for Rockwell, who only noticed years later that he had, "...sort of put three legs on the boy." As for how this mysterious third legs comes off within the context of the painting, Rockwell biographer Richard Halpern described the addition as "an inexplicable phallic supplement."
His dick joke, not ours. Wait, is this whole article going to be about finding secret dicks in old paintings?
Why keep a good dick secret, that's what we want to know.
Michelangelo's Women Were Suspiciously Manly
Yes, that's supposed to be a woman. Michelangelo was one of the greatest geniuses in the history of our species, but we're not afraid to call him out on this: We have never met a woman who looked like that. Well, not while we were sober. But wait until you see one of them naked--it gets worse.
Bulky muscles, weird boobs and other stuff that wouldn't pass the sniff test in your local gym's ladies locker room.
Michelangelo used bodybuilders as his models for women in all his artwork. Naturally, this made dresses and breasts even more important for his subjects since they were essentially the only things keeping his work from featuring all-male casts. Of course, sometimes their backs were turned ...
And sometimes he gave them the most ridiculously botched boob-jobs in the history of art. Behold:
Here's more terrifying boobage in The Last Judgment, as seen in the Sistine Chapel:
By the way, there seems to be some confusion over whether or not the two naked dudes to the right are actually supposed to be Adam and Eve. The one on the left... sort of has the head of a woman. But she's missing the ridiculous glued-on boobs, so make of that what you will.
You be the judge. We'll just be quietly disturbed.
Moses Did Not Have Horns
Those are not depictions of Satan up there. They're supposed to be Moses, of The Ten Commandments fame. But that's just a small sampling of the painting and sculptures that seem to portray Moses as part bull.
What the hell?
In fairness, we might be able to chalk this one up to hair gel.
One of the funny things about the Bible is that even if it is the real-deal word of God, it doesn't change the fact that we probably ruined it forever the minute we decided to write it down. Languages are extremely limited, and words like "virgin," "cock" and "ass" fail to translate as well as we would like into the common tongue. Likewise, those "horns" Moses apparently purchased from a dollar store on Mount Horeb exist solely because Saint Jerome "rather clumsily" translated the Hebrew Bible into Latin for his immensely popular Vulgate Bible.
"The Horny Bible."
This innocent mistranslation of "hornlike rays " into "horns, just like the freaking Devil" caused a tsunami of artistic screw-ups that spilled well into the next 1,000 years.
Perhaps the most famous instance of this image is Michelangelo's Moses from tomb of Pope Julius II, which is so iconic that it seriously led to Charleston Heston being cast as Moses in The Ten Commandments. Minus the horns, of course:
From my cold, marble hands.
However, it is also worth noting that at this point Michelangelo had caught on to the Vulgate Bible's mistranslation, that Moses did not have horns and--perhaps most importantly--that Pope Julius II was a douchebag. As such, good ol' Mike became one of the first artists we know about to deliberately reinforce this error, not to preserve the artistic style, but simply because he knew his sculpture would decorate the tomb of a Pope who really was that big an asshole.
The jokes on you, Pope Dickweed. Oh, and on generations of artists and scholars.
William Penn Waves His Dick at Philadelphia
An enormous bronze colossus of Pennsylvania founder William Penn has stood atop the clock tower of Philadelphia City Hall since 1894. Although hard to discern from a lower angle, the statue itself is pretty tall. Standing at 37 feet, it remains the tallest statue atop a building anywhere in the world. So yeah, Philadelphians can always stoke that fire when their favorite sports teams let them down... at least until Dubai catches onto them.
What's another 38 feet?
Then again, their statue probably won't be sporting a hand-dick.
Leave it to Philadelphia to find a way to turn something the whole city should be proud of into a bottomless well of embarrassment.
Sculptor Alexander Milne Calder assumed everyone in the city would be viewing his statue from a low angle...
However, what he failed to consider was that most Philadelphians would be viewing the statue from any other angle than the base of City Hall. As long as you look at the statue from 1 Penn Square, all is cool. As for the rest of the city, the William Penn statue has become a bit of a running gag. Check out how the outstretched hand looks from prominent city locales such as JFK Plaza:
Yeah, he's got his dick out. And it's a considerable dick at that.
Though even if that enormous penis looming atop the city was an accident, it sure doesn't explain the look on William Penn's face.
This actually might be the least unsettling thing about Philadelphia.
All right, we promise that's the last hidden dick of the article.
Rembrandt's Dick-Grabbing Shadow Hand
Wait, one more.
De Nachtwacht by Rembrandt is a masterpiece of countless hallmarks of the Baroque period, among them dramatic chiaroscuro effects, dim lighting and the most fabulous boot-stocking money could buy.
Wait a second... look up a few inches.
Because of the emphasis of lighting and shadows in Baroque art, stuff like this tends to get noticed...
Some dude's shadow is totally going for the junk-grab there. Scholars swear that this shadow is not an intentional dick joke on Rembrandt's part.
But still... it's a painting, not a photograph. How does something like that happen by accident? Rembrandt just randomly chose to have Captain Frans Banning Cocq (yes, Cocq) cast a shadow that totally makes it look like he's making a grab for Lieutenant so-and-so's McNuggets?
After all, light and shadow were everything in paintings like this. They could capture mood, evoke emotion or, in this case, denote strength, hope, victory, ugly women, dead chickens, camaraderie and bromance. However, none of these masterpieces of artistic endeavor change the fact that Captain Cocq totally looks like he plans on rounding third base on his first date with the Lieutenant.
The Crazy Horse Memorial by Korczak Ziolkowski
Korczak Ziolkowski's enormous sculpture is supposed to depict a famous episode in Native American history when the Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse was asked by a white man, "Where are your lands now?" Crazy Horse responded by pointing into the distance and adding somewhat tragically/badassily: "My lands are where my dead lie buried."
"...right under that hotel."
As Cracked has helpfully pointed out before, hand gestures do not mean the same thing from culture to culture. Depending on where you're standing, a thumbs-up can mean everything from "Good job!" to "This is going up your ass, whether you like it or not."
In India, it means "Refreshment."
Ziolkowski, for instance, portrays Crazy Horse pointing with his finger, which is about as dignified as if he was pointing to where his dead lie buried with his dick. Pointing with your finger is considered "rude and aggressive" across most Native American cultures. This complete lack of research into such a prominent landmark is yet another reason why groups like the Manataka American Indian Council compare the monument to George Washington "picking his nose" on Mount Rushmore.
Maybe if they'd built it facing D.C...
It only gets worse when you combine this with what we have pointed out before about the hypocrisy of the memorial (that is, to create it, they're destroying a mountain the Native Americans consider sacred). The whole thing is the equivalent of England digging up the Gettysburg National Cemetery to make room for a statue of George Washington giving America the finger.
For more tasteful insights into the art world, check out 6 Best Shenanigans Passed Off As "Art" and 5 Works of Art That Can Probably Kill You.
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