For either new collectors or those who have long been establishing a great personal archive, bringing a newly acquired artwork home—to live with—is an immensely satisfying and compelling point in collecting. Successfully integrating and maintaining an artwork in which an investment and relationship has been made is a critical aspect of this endeavor; below are some formative tips doing just that. Here’s the at-home guide to hanging artworks (or not!).
There isn’t a rule, per se, on the how high to hang an artwork in your home, but generally, hanging a piece on a centerline of 58 to 60 inches is an optimal standard of measurement. Of course, there are instances where this measurement does not apply when accommodating architectural variances or furniture heights, but it is a useful guide for establishing cohesion in displaying a varied, personal, collection. Particularly for stacking or assembling many works on a single wall, such in a salon or collage style, hanging on a centerline helps maintain balance and visual integrity. In such cases, the centerline should be based on the entire height of the works, including the spaces between frames. For very large works that are too big to be hung on a centerline, 15 inches up from the floor works well.
As a collection grows, it is tempting to fill every single space in your home with a piece of art – that is the point, right? However, there is something to be said for maintaining negative space in your home. An art term used to describe the area surrounding the intentional “subject” within a composition, and which establishes balance and harmony, negative space is an equally important design tool for displaying an art piece in a domestic space. Restricting the number of pieces on a wall allows room for variety and rotation within a collection, and likewise, does not deter from the aesthetic quality of each singular work.
Generally speaking, photographs, watercolors, and works on paper should not be hung in areas with a lot of direct sunlight, as this type of exposure expedites fading and a general muddying of the surface quality of works. If you live in a particularly well-lit home, or are less inclined to rotate works, it is worth investing in UV Plexiglass during framing.
Choosing a frame that complements a piece of art and does not interfere with the artist’s intent is an important and, sometimes, difficult decision in collecting. As latter stated, framing can also be integral to maintaining the archival quality of a work. For that reason alone, framing is an important process and component of collecting that is always worth investing in, as it both preserves and enhances the life of your acquired piece. Flush, wooden frames with a simple profile in a neutral tone are a sure-fire framing solution as they are least likely to infringe on an artwork, and artist’s intent. Similarly, smaller works on paper are best displayed with a float mount on white mat board, or a variation thereof, so as to allow the work to breathe. Glass should be chosen on a case by case scenario, but always with environmental conditions in consideration.
In both collecting and curating in your home, embrace variation. A great collection is established and displayed when it is not confined to a particular aesthetic vision, or the color scheme of a certain room. Invest in works which are evocative and interesting, and then integrate their display in your home in a similar regard. This could mean leaning an artwork against the wall, pairing “dissimilar” works en tandem, and exhibiting unconventional pieces as focal points. This approach facilitates an interesting visual dynamic within your own collection and can foster a more inclusive and comprehensive collecting mindset.