Not all works of art are immediately apparent. Either by accident or by the will of the artists, plenty of outstanding creations have remained hidden, sometimes right under our noses. The following is a list of some of the most remarkable.
10. Arcade Fire’s Hidden Song
Hidden songs were a fad of sorts in the 90s, but the era of digital downloads has made them all but disappear. CDs, however, are the place to hide a song, so before they go completely extinct, Arcade Fire decided to treat their fans with a 10-minute track hidden in the pre-gap of their 2013 album Reflektor.
To listen to it, you have to find the hidden ‘track 0’ on the CD, which consists simply of warped snippets of all the songs on the album put together. Nothing too interesting just yet, but if you play it in sync with the backwards version of the song Supersymmetry (honestly, who figures these things out?), it becomes something really…eerie, in a good way. Definitely listen for yourself!
9. The Book of Mozilla
Computer geeks love their Easter eggs. Most of them are just harmless features or messages, but the response you get when you type “about:mozilla” in the popular browser is downright creepy.
There are six messages you can get, all of them reminiscent of the Book of Revelations, saying things like: The twins of Mammon quarrelled. Their warring plunged the world into a new darkness, and the beast abhorred the darkness. So it began to move swiftly, and grew more powerful, and went forth and multiplied. And the beasts brought fire and light to the darkness.. Collectively, these ‘verses’ form the so-called Book of Mozilla.
8. Hidden Paintings in the Fore Edges of Books
Some people think real books, made out of paper, will soon fully replaced by the much more convenient ebooks. But reading on your computer screen on mobile device can’t replace the experience of holding a book in our hand – and here’s another thing ebooks can’t do: fore-edge paintings! Using a special press, an artist can create beautiful pictures which you can only see if you slightly fan them open. It’s a really neat effect, so if you happen to have any old books lying around, go see if you can find one which has been adorned in this way!
7. Caravaggio’s Self-Portrait in Bacchus` Wine Carafe
One of the great figures of the Baroque movement, Caravaggio was largely forgotten after his death and was only rediscovered in the 20th century. A painting of his known as Bacchus was found in storage as late as 1913! It’s unsurprising it has only recently been analyzed, and in 2009 researchers found what appears to be a self-portrait of the artists…in the wine carafe on the right of the character.
6. Radiohead’s Secret OK Rainbows Album
Radiohead is anything but a conventional band, but if the theories about their acclaimed 1997 album OK Computer are true, then they’ve reached a new level of weirdness.
In 2007, 10 years after OK Computer, the band announced the release of another album called In Rainbows just 10 days in advance. The release date? October 10, or 10/10. You’re probably seeing the theme here. Interestingly enough, OK Computer’s working title was Zeroes and Ones, and if that album could be represented as ‘01’ and In Rainbows as ’10,’ it would form a string of binary code. Some went further, and alternated the tracks on each album, playing them with a 10 second fade. The result is an entirely new ‘secret album’ fans have named OK Rainbows.
The band never confirmed or denied the theory, but at least it’s better than ridiculous theory about subliminal messages in albums which were causing people to harm themselves or others.
5. A Lost Van Gogh Painting Found on a Reused Canvas
Writers and artists of the digital era can simply hit Undo or Delete when they think their work is useless or could be improved, but this wasn’t always the case. Artists of limited financial means like Vincent van Gogh often had to reuse their canvases, meaning a lot of these paintings have been lost.
However there’s a new technique, involving X-rays from a particle accelerator, which is allowing us to peer beneath the upper layers of a painting and see the original work. Using this method, scientists have found the portrait of a woman hidden underneath van Gogh’s 1887 Path of Grass painting.
4. A Song Hidden by Da Vinci in The Last Supper
There have been many attempts to find various ‘codes’ in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, but this one, uncovered by an Italian musician and computer technician, might be one of the most plausible yet.
Giovanni Maria Pala found that, by drawing the five lines of a musical staff across The Last Supper, elements like the loafs of bread and the hands of Jesus and the Apostles could represent musical notes. If you actually try to play the song, it kind of sounds like a requiem, appropriate since by the time of the Last Supper, the death of Jesus was imminent. You can listen to the 25 second track and interpret this whichever way you like, however even experts find it hard to believe this is a coincidence.
3. The Institutes of Gaius Palimpsest
OK, this isn’t strictly a work of art, but if you’re interested in law, we’re talking about a real ancient masterpiece. Just like the artists who painted over their own canvases, scribes used to write new texts over old scrolls, since parchment and other writing materials were really hard to come by. This is called a palimpsest. Sometimes, people would write over invaluable masterpieces, like the Institutes of Gaius, a renowned Roman jurist from the second century CE.
The work was considered lost for hundreds of years, until it was found by scholars in 1816 underneath letters from Saint Jerome. Considering Roman law forms the bedrock of most legal systems in Europe, the discovery of one of its most celebrated textbooks is pretty significant.
2. A Self-Portrait of Benvenuto Cellini on the Back of the Head of a Perseus Statue
Perseus with the Head of Medusa is a spectacular bronze sculpture completed in 1545 by Benvenuto Cellini. The 10-foot tall statue depicts the Greek hero Perseus after he severed the head of Medusa, a monster which could turn anyone who looked into her eyes into stone.
If you look at the sculpture from behind, however, you can see the self-portrait of Cellini himself, on the back of Perseus’ helmet.
1. The Remarkable Mirror in The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck
The Arnolfini Portrait, probably depicting the Italian merchant Arnolfini and his wife, is one of Jan van Eyck’s most famous works, highly regarded for its intensity and deep symbolism. The convex mirror in the background is particularly remarkable. It reflects two additional figures in the doorway, one of which might be the painter himself. Some researchers have even analyzed the geometry of the reflection, concluding it is stunningly accurate, especially for a convex mirror.