Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tips for Displaying Art

Beauty, as we know, is in the eye of the beholder. This includes not only the artwork we collect but also the way we choose to display those works. The process of collecting art is done through a variety of motivations, each unique to us as collectors, and the rewards may be intellectual, emotional, social or based on investment for potential financial gain. Whatever your reasons for acquiring and building a collection of artwork, many collectors agree that a primary precursor to any art purchase should be that you love what you buy.

When you surround yourself with art that brings you pleasure on a day-to-day basis you're providing yourself the emotional reward that comes with simply feeling good. It doesn't matter whether the pieces you choose are expensive or expected to increase in value if your prime motivation is the way the artwork makes you feel emotionally or intellectually. Part of this process, of course, includes not only the artwork you've chosen but also how it's displayed. Here are a few quick tips to consider.

Pleasure or Profit?

Several recent surveys show that 75%-85% of those who collect art do so for the emotional value, although a small percentage admits to collecting for investment purposes. Interestingly, though, it's not for expected returns but rather for capital protection and diversification. Theoretically, these collectors might just as well lock up their artwork in a vault or other place safe from sunlight, humidity and the adoring eyes of appreciative onlookers. For the rest of us, we want our artwork out where it can be enjoyed and bring pleasure to those experiencing it. Some of the more important elements to consider when displaying wall art include how pieces are organized, what locations are best for which items, how things are framed (or not framed) and how they're grouped together.

If you're staring at a large, blank wall and wondering what's best to put there, your decision could be:

  • A single, bold, large painting or art piece that makes a definite statement and reinforces the décor and color scheme of the room
  • Some type of grouping of smaller pieces arranged, perhaps, in a grid pattern of identically sized and framed items such as black and white etchings

Groupings can also consist of different sized pieces, each with a unique frame, and clustered together with a small but equal distance between each piece. The wall above your sofa or fireplace, for example, will often have a more pleasing appearance with a tasteful cluster of smaller pieces on one part of the wall, rather than scattered or spaced out along the entire wall. You may also opt for the idea of building a gallery over time on one large wall. In this case, start with a center cluster that you can add to over time without the need to take pieces down, patch the holes, and start over again.

One way to choose which display works best is to make paper templates you can tape to the wall or spread your artwork out on the floor and shuffle it about until you achieve the look you want.

Wall art should be displayed at the correct height so that it's easy to view. Typically, this would mean the centerline is about 5'7" above the floor in most rooms, although artwork displayed in the dining room may be lowered to easily be viewed from a seated position.

Do you have a preferred method for displaying your art? Let us know in the comments below.

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