While some of my blog posts have given you a window into my painting retreats or into my studio, this time I’m blogging on a practical note: how to hang your art collection well.
Some people have asked me for advice, so I thought especially after the spring Open Studios season when many people have new art to hang up in their homes, this might be a helpful topic. There are only a few "don't's" when it comes to hanging artwork, which you'll read about. Everyone has their own way of deciding where things will go and how to display them for the best enjoyment - there are no two collectors, or collections, exactly alike.
You’ll be hearing from three different perspectives.
The first writer is my friend Penny, a collector of many different kinds of artwork who kindly agreed to share some of her thoughts on how to go about deciding where things can be hung up. The second writer is my longtime friend and fellow art school alum, CJ Phu. He is a successful professional artist and also installs art shows professionally. (www.cjphu.com) He kindly agreed to give tips on how to actually hang up the work once you’ve decided where it should go. Finally, I’ll share some of my ideas at the end.
From Penny: thoughts on hanging artwork
Deidre’s request to share my ideas about how I hang artwork forced me to think consciously about some of the things I believe I do instinctively. I hope my musings may be of interest and/or help . . .
First of all, I never select or purchase artwork in order to fill a particular space. I only choose pieces that appeal to me intrinsically. That said, I pass up some artwork that I adore because I have absolutely nowhere to put it.
The question of what to put where can be troublesome so I tend to think in terms of groupings of pictures to go in a particular area. The groupings generally follow obvious lines such as all five of my favorite Japanese woodblock prints by the same artist (all are black on white) on the wall in the dining room where I also have a lovely old Tansu chest. I have four landscapes by another Japanese artist that work well together along a blank wall above my desk in my office—two horizontal ones flanking two verticals (I had also had all of these ones framed in the same way).
Then, too, I sometimes think about “themes” by which to sort and hang my artwork. For instance, I realized when I moved into my current home that I had four pieces that feature bridges. They are a mixture of Asian and Western works of very different sizes and types. But I managed to put them in what to me is a pleasing arrangement on one wall of my family room.
Then I also realized that I had a multitude of pictures of people—Japanese woodblock prints of individuals and scenes full of people, several portraits of various types and styles, a Daumier with two people, a nude male torso and a tastefully erotic print of two bodies. The latter two seemed only appropriate to go in my bedroom and so I turned my bedroom walls over to all these different people-pieces.
In my living-dining room area I hung my three Chinese or Japanese scrolls (different subject matter and styles) along with an assortment of mainly landscape paintings of one sort or another. The effect throughout my home I think is highly eclectic and is in keeping with my highly eclectic assortment of furniture and furnishings.
I realize that I have not said a lot about color, something that is often crucial to consider. I guess this is because, with the exception of the painting I have of Deidre’s (lucky me!), my artwork is not overwhelmingly colorful and thus goes with my furnishings. The bright colors in my life come mainly from my flower gardens and the magnificent mural Deidre painted on my foundation wall a number of years ago. That is a joy to behold! - Penny
From CJ: thoughts on hanging artwork
A tip I could share with you is basically the most obvious... this is that you should hang artwork at eye level, between 60" - 64" inches from the floor. In spaces with high ceilings, I usually hang artwork 61" inches from the floor. That is usually the center of the piece for a painting or photograph. For fabric or large pieces, you would want to use your best judgment, of course, where they should fit.
Artwork with a wire on the back is the easiest to hang. You would want to measure the wire to the top of the piece, holding the wire with tension. Make a mark on the wall with a pencil at the point where the highest point of tension is, and that's where the hanging hook should go. -- CJ
From Deidre: thoughts on hanging artwork
If you are overwhelmed and at your wit's end, by all means, invite help!!! Make a night of it and curate a room with your friends, open good wine or brew an aromatic pot of tea, and sit back to admire your new home gallery together.
Here’s hoping this was helpful! Share your tips, too, and leave a comment for others to read. We can all learn from each other.
Til next time,
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