Artists throughout history have found the most unusual places to express themselves. From caves to European walls to buses to decorative, industrial tanks, painters and artists throughout history have used the strange places to express themselves. But what happens when valuable art is found in places they were never meant to be in?
If you love art and have a penchant for travel, here are some unusual locations you can visit to see some valuable art—from precious historical artifacts that found themselves lost in time to those that were purposely created and exhibited by artists.
In 2014, art experts and historians found themselves flabbergasted over Caravaggio’s Baroque painting Judith Beheading Holofernes in an attic in Toulouse, France. For the longest time, the whereabouts of the 1600s painting had been unknown, which is why its discovery sent shock waves in the world of art. The Louvre Museum turned down the offer to purchase the painting for €100 million, which is why hedge fund manager and art collector J. Tomilson Hill eventually purchased it for himself at an undisclosed amount.
Experts believe the painting found in the French attic was a second version. If you want to see the first version Carravaggio created, it’s currently hanging at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Barberini, Rome.
If you have a passion for feminism and significant socio-political themes, consider visiting a public toilet in Brunswick Park, Camberwell, United Kingdom. Yes—a random public toilet has become a space for countless feminine writings and art pieces. Also known as The Bower, this public toilet has become a hub of sorts for female writers and artists who want to showcase their works through different exhibitions and poetry events. Boasting of only 15 square meters, The Bower is considered London Town’s smallest yet mightiest art galleries. Still, because it’s located in an open and public park, many artists have also utilized the surrounding greenery with sculptures, projections, and art installations.
Another unusual art gallery is found in London, which says so much about the city’s love for using non-traditional locations for artists to show the masterpieces. This time, it’s located in a former police station—the Deptford precint. Dubbed The Old Police Station, the art gallery is a venue for up-and-coming artists to host their exhibits. The owners decided not to remove the distinctly precinct-like interiors of the location. Instead, they used the black metal bars and original tiled cells as the backdrop for countless exhibitions.
Storage units and containers
Lock Up International is a moving art project founded by passionate artists who wanted to use storage units worldwide as the backdrop of their art installations, exhibits, and other showcases. True to its name, the various artists have partnered with the group to install 3D art, sculpture, and other masterpieces in different storage units for a certain period. The containers are filled with artworks by invited artists and can be viewed by appointment. The group has surfaced in cities like Tokyo, Los Angeles, Istanbul, London, Mexico City, and Frankfurt. It has showcased artists like Yuri Pattison, Diego Salvador Rios, Nevine Mahmoud, Martin Kohout, and so many more.
In December 2007, a young man in Mexico discovered a suitcase filled with the Mexican ambassador to France brought a suitcase filled with valuable film from World War II. About 4,500 35mm negatives were taken by three of the most renowned photographers from the Spanish Civil War until the Nazi invasion of France. The negatives went missing in the late 1930s when they disappeared and were passed on to France’s darkroom manager. They remained undiscovered until the Mexican ambassador’s nephew found out the value and significance of the films.
Aside from war images, the negatives also included never-before-seen photos of anti-Franco protests and photos of Ernest Hemingway and Federico Garcia Lorca. The negatives’ journey remains somewhat of a mystery, but the photos that came out of them are some of the most valuable in modern history. The pictures have been exhibited in France, Spain, Mexico, and New York.
Of Art and Travel
At the end of the day, art, culture, and travel will always be closely intertwined. Until the day we can move freely again, let’s keep ourselves physically healthy and mentally rich by dreaming about which places we can visit to gain our art fix one day. When the world opens up again, it will be our travel oyster.