The Art Of Hanging Art #1: First Things First


What makes Your Space into Your Home, is the art and personal items you treasure and love to look at.

In the end, it’s less about the pedigree of what you have and more about the meaning the Art/Objects have for you.

Below is an interview of Gary Tinterow by Suzanne Slesin for the now defunct House and Garden magazine It’s included here to give you some context for hanging art from an acknowledged master.

There is more art to hanging art than application of a hammer and a nail:

“Most visitors to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s nineteenth-century European paintings and sculpture galleries may think these rooms have always been there. But it took years of planning, millions of dollars, and the experienced eye of Gary Tinterow, the museum’s Engelhard curator, to hang the masterpieces in these grand classical spaces. Completed in 1993, the galleries were given moldings, cornices and arched doorways to mirror the scale and proportions of the rooms in which these works were originally seen.  The lighting – a mix of incandescent, fluorescent, and natural – is so complicated that Tinterow says, “No one can re-create it in their own home.”  While the green chosen for the walls in the early-nineteenth-century galleries was in keeping with the period – “Olive green was considered to be a neutral background,” says the curator – the lighter gray-green and gray-blue hues of the Impressionist and post-Impressionist galleries present a definite departure.  “These painters anticipated that their works would be hung on reddish-brown walls, and their color harmonies were calculated to contrast against a dark background,” says Tinterow.  “But people would scream if we painted these rooms dark brown, because they would find them lugubrious.  We wanted to make an interior that would be attractive to people today.  Life is a compromise.”

If you have an art collection you are currently maintaining or adding to, remember to keep a firm grip on the obvious and hang accordingly.
  • Sunlight will wash out the color or actually fade nearly anything.  UV glass for framed pieces helps protect from the damaging rays
  • Heat/humidity warps and discolors.  Check your environment carefully.
  • Unless the art is meant for an outside installation, it’s never a great idea to store it in the basement.
  • Make sure each piece “plays well with others”.  Not all work should be displayed in the same area, without regard.  Some pieces may just not look good next to some of the others in a grouping.  Make sure every piece is shown in a way that retains the same effect on you that you bought it for.
  • Some art does indeed look best displayed on a white wall, but don’t overlook any different wall color opportunities.  Try pulling a color from the art itself or choose a good neutral, either light or dark for a background.  Your artwork will thank you by really popping out.
  • Don’t be afraid to hang something besides pictures on the walls. Be creative.  Collections of baskets, trays, hats, dolls etc. can look terrific.  An American hand-made quilt or an antique Japanese kimono can both become inspired visual destinations.  Even an assortment of empty frames from a flea market can make an unusual and attractive arrangement.
Do yourself a favor and edit out the “filler”, the “fakes” and anything that by another name would be called Clutter.
You will like your arrangement much better.

Next Time: The Art Of Hanging Art #2: The Low Down On How High

Related Posts

(The Art Of Hanging Art Four Part Series)

The Art Of Hanging Art #2: The Low Down On How High

The Art Of Hanging Art #3: Which Frames Work With What Decor?

The Art Of Hanging Art #4: Where Is This Going?


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