Hanging pictures has always remained an integral aspect of embellishing our homes since the time humans learned the art of painting cave walls in prehistoric times. Ancient people considered art as a magic that ferried us from an earthly to an eternal life. Surprisingly this concept has more truth to it than you would imagine as what we take in visually remains in our subconscious mind.
What we see has the capacity to captivate us and whisk us to another world magically and wondrously. To enhance the impact of this miraculous journey, it is all the more important that artwork is hung appropriately and is compatible to the ambiance of the room. Rather than recreating the wheel, leading artists and art galleries have published some of the techniques they use when hanging pictures to maximize their visual impact. And if we follow their example we can come that much closer to creating the most eye catching, breath taking visual experiences within our own homes without the heartache of trying to work it out for ourselves.
An Ottawa-based gallery director, Joel Pleet opines that the most common mistake people make while hanging artwork is that the pieces are hung either too low or too high on the wall as they take middle of the piece as their point of reference for “eye level”. Pleet is of the firm opinion that eye level for different people varies dramatically therefore, when in the business of hanging pictures, the rules of “eye level” need to be broken. To maintain consistency in his gallery, he points out that middle of the painting from the floor needs to be about 1.4 metres. In homes however, one should look at “what makes sense” in particular situation rather than going for a specific rule or guideline as certain other aspects of room decor like wall space, colour, furniture and low ceiling have to be taken into consideration.
Another expert installer Paz Bundell holds firm beliefs when it comes to how the artwork is fixed to the hanging surface. His suggestion to people who hang pictures themselves is that two anchors or hooks should be fixed to the wall at least 5cm apart and then the artwork hung across these two anchors. In this way, the frame remains square as it is prevented from pivoting on the one point. He further states that hanging pictures over two anchor points provides more stability for the pieces being displayed. Toni Spanos Nordan who is a former art gallery director, also suggests using specialised art hangers when the wall hanging itself exceeds 10 kilograms. For any pieces weighing less than 5 kilograms, a long thin nail works fine if it is secured at an appropriate angle to a solid base.
Bundell also hints that as most homes don’t have straight walls and ceiling lines so any artwork being hung in a home with walls and ceilings out of alignment, has to be hung to fit the room. For example, if the ceiling is not perfectly straight but a large picture hung close to the ceiling is, then the gap between the ceiling and the top of the picture frame will be greater at one end than the other, which makes the picture appear to be hung crooked. He highly recommends that if the wall or ceiling line is out of plumb by a small amount, hang the picture also a little bit out to compensate. In this way the picture will look visually correct. Another hint he has for grouping artwork is to lay all the frames on the floor in front of the wall to determine the arrangement before physically hanging it on the wall. In this way you can play with number of combination’s until you get the perfect look without reeking havoc on your wall.
Dr. Lori. as an art historian and a museum curator, suggests not displaying the artworks for long periods of time as both natural and artificial lights can damaging to your art and could potentially result in devaluing your artwork over time. She stresses to “light” the artwork wisely. Avoid infrared, UV rays and shining of bright light directly onto the work of art. Incandescent bulbs are recommended rather than fluorescent bulbs as they have only 4% of their rays in the damaging light range.
Rather than working on a trial and error basis yourself, use the techniques of other art experts to gain the maximum effect from your pieces. Don’t forget that it is the art that emancipates us from our monotonous habitual thoughts allowing fresh perspective to our mind. So it becomes imperative to display your pictures artfully and respectfully by putting extra creativity and thought in to the process of hanging pictures.
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