For the longest time I owned very little art that could be considered worthy of collection. Some of my very first pieces, a pair of black and white photos I took on a barge trip down the Canal du Midi in France, a small original abstract painted in oil by a friend, I took care in framing. I made these disparate pieces come together by using the same thick mat, its bevel at a sharp angle to draw the eye in, and the use of matching black frames. I still love these pieces, but they often end up stowed in the back of a closet in their moving boxes. Why? My own inability to combine them with newer works of art I have collected along the way.
Living in the South End allows my voyeuristic tendencies to be satisfied without the police getting involved. As I wonder the streets at night, homes are lit and visual access abounds. There is one home on the corner of Union Park and Tremont that has a wall of artwork that leaves bare only small pockets of space between pieces. When I dine at Aquitaine I can see it’s not a single wall, it’s a least two, I suspect the whole room is littered with artwork. This displays a fearlessness that I do not possess, but admire.
I dated a guy recently that subscribed to the same aesthetic philosophy – every square inch was spoken for with his photographs and rock band posters. While the remainder of his place could have used a redesign, he got the art work right, well at least that which he hung on his wall. I was the most precious piece of art he was likely to come across, and his curatorial instincts passed right over this little gem. A story for another time.
OKL . left: artwork hung on walls and rested on furniture. Right: black frames pull together different media.
As a flipper I often draw inspiration from a new single piece of artwork. I want this piece to take center stage, but I don’t want to make all my other artwork feel unloved. It got me thinking about what the experts would do. I offer up this advice to you all, but respectfully ask you to forgive me for not deploying all the techniques. I need to protect my investment and spare myself a hole filling expedition prior to handing over the keys.
OKL . Left the use of gold frames and similar color ways tie these pieces together. Right: Keeping it simple, matching hues.
Grouping Art: thematic art (nature, seascapes, portraits, etc. can be the theme that ties a display together) similar colors, the same or similar media – oil, watercolor, black and white photography, magazine covers, etc.) can help pull together pieces that otherwise don’t have a direct relationship.
Framing: in matching or complimentary frames, pieces that otherwise have no apparent relationship look like two peas in a pod, likewise, bringing a color palette together through the use of matting works nicely, using wall moldings to act as a frame for several pieces can bring them together in a non-traditional way, and bring organization within those borders.
Scale: While everything need not be the same size, if that is your visual preference, mat and frame smaller pieces to match larger, hanging a smaller piece of artwork directly next to a larger one, and at eye level can invite the viewer in for a closer look.
Layering and Stacking: hang it on the wall or not. Desks, bureaus, mantels, counters and other surfaces offer opportunities to display art, playing with scale and size, largest pieces in the back, smallest toward the front, ensures all will be seen.
House Beautiful . Left: Boldly using wall space – black and gold frames tie pieces together, but it looks professionally hung. Right: Birds and butterflies tie this rooms art together, while the black painted wall acts as one large mat.
I am not at that stage in my life where I would consider hiring an Art Consultant. Maybe when my quest is complete. Having said that, I call on my artist friend, John Vinton from whom I have purchased a number of abstract seascape of my native Cape Cod. John is a wonderful talent, and a generous man. He comes and helps me hang my most sacred pieces at the completion of each renovation. He makes me smile. If you don’t know John, and live in the Boston area, you could try these folks:
While I am not the type of person that has the patience to nudge and mark and measure and remeasure, if you are attempting to do this on your own, I recommend laying it out on the floor, or creating templates. This is particularly important if you are selecting a pattern that is complex, or asymmetrical. Better safe than sorry. Happy Hanging.