Our VEDO art consultant Malcolm Taylor gives 5 Rules for Hanging Art in his article “The Art of Hanging Art”. Malcolm was a former art gallery owner and is an avid art collector. He is a director of Vitruvian Arts Ltd. Wearing his professional hat he is a company consultant for a prestigious Barristers’ chambers, was managing partner at a leading law firm and practiced as a commercial solicitor for over 30 years.
The Art of Hanging Art – 5 Rules
One of the consequences of home working and multiple video conference calls, is that we are getting a glimpse of the home environments of many more people than normal. This ranges from work colleagues and those we do business with, to celebrities and politicians being interviewed on tv. And the interesting thing is to see how much (or rather how little) art there seemingly is in these homes and often how badly hung much of it is!
This raises questions of what and where (and how) to hang art. There are of course no absolute rules – it is after all your house and your pictures – but some themes seem to have general applicability.
Here are 5 Rules for Hanging Art:
- Environmental conditions – to avoid damaging the artwork?
The first and obvious factor is to ensure that the art is not damaged by hanging it in the “wrong“ place. Bright sunlight, humidity, damp or direct heat (eg hanging over a radiator) can all damage art and the more valuable the work, the more critical it is that care is taken to ensure the environmental conditions are appropriate. Weight -bearing is very important too, try to ensure your artwork is securely affixed to the wall using the right hardware and technique, as an artwork can also become damaged if it can be easily knocked off or is improperly secured by not using strong enough nails for example.
2. Aesthetics – avoid clashing backgrounds
Aesthetics come next. Video calls are showing examples of artworks with bold and vibrant colours hanging on walls of equal but clashing backgrounds, or exuberant and dynamic imagery against a “busy” and highly patterned wall. The effect is to detract from the artwork and can cause offence to the eye. Conversely, a neutral and pale image against an equally bland background can simply be lost or just create a cold and uninspired reaction.
Often contrasts work best – a colourful and vivacious picture on a plain and pale wall can heighten the impact of the artwork and give it greater prominence in the room – and equally a simple and understated image with muted tones might sit effectively against a more imposing backdrop.
The placement of art is very important. There can be nothing worse (other than no art at all!) than a tiny picture, hung alone on a vast expanse of wall, or conversely too large a piece shoe-horned into a space that is clearly too small for it.
Pictures hung too high or too low on the wall will look out of place. Symmetry can be a good guide – the artwork placed centrally to its space, whether a wall, in an alcove, over a fireplace or whatever. This need not be an absolute rule and on a big space a picture hung over a particular feature – perhaps a bureau or pair of chairs, can look perfectly appropriate even if not central to the whole wall.
Pictures hung in pairs or groups can look very effective. Perhaps a pair of similarly sized pictures together, maybe a run of several along a long wall or corridor, or a series of 3 or more in a group.
Care must be taken to ensure the groupings are properly and evenly placed – with not too much or too little space in between. If a group of three it is often best to have two equally sized (and smaller) paintings on the top, with the third underneath and in the middle.
5. Overall design scheme
Finally there is the issue of how an artwork fits into the overall design and theme of the room. A classically furnished room can be complimented by equally classically themed art and conversely with a contemporary design and modern art. However, that is by no means to say that a contemporary and modern (maybe abstract) image might not fit perfectly into a “traditional” environment.
Conversely a more formal and conventional picture, perhaps in an elaborate gilt frame, can look spectacular in a modern and contemporary setting.
So hanging art needs thought and care – practical and aesthetic. There are a few basic “rules”, but like all rules, some can be manipulated to allow creativity and inspiration. Hanging art is, indeed, an art in itself.
The six artworks featured in this article are currently on display in the Getting Closer to Nature Exhibition. To read more about the exhibition please see here http://www.vedocorporateart.com/getting-closer-to-nature-vedos-landscape-exhibition-at-the-36-group-2/. All of the artworks are available to buy and can be purchased through our Artsy page https://www.artsy.net/show/gallery-different-getting-closer-to-nature#!.