As I have had many questions on this subject, I would like to explore the topic of The Artful Placement and Installation of Art. Correct placement is an important part of how art looks and functions within an environment. The arrangement of art complements your space. In this scenario, I am assuming that the artworks are already framed.
• Placement: Before actually hanging or installing a work of art, it is best to look at the interior color scheme, the environment and the available lighting. The artwork, whether a framed painting, framed prints or sculpture should complement the surroundings. It is best to avoid areas of excessive heat or cold (heating or air conditioning ducts, fireplaces, etc), direct sunlight and highly trafficked areas (where the surface of a work may be damaged).
Tip: If more than once piece is being hung or installed, “mapping out” the arrangement on the carpet before hanging helps. An alternative would be to cut out paper shapes the size of the artwork and hang together on wall. For a fresh perspective, remember to rotate art periodically.
• Height: Hanging art too high on a wall is something that I see often when visiting homes and offices. The art should be hung at eye level (center of artwork) but sometimes a bit lower depending on location.
Tip: Avoid putting large art in small spaces such as a narrow hallway where it can be seen only close-up. A smaller painting will “pop” from as little as a foot away.
• Installation: Once the placement and height have been determined, it is very important to use the correct hardware for the size and weight of the artwork.
Tip: Heavy or valuable art should be secured with earthquake hooks. There are systems (such as the Arakawa Hanging system) that are customizable.
• Lighting: Excessive exposure to fluorescent light – particularly damaging to works on paper – will cause works to become brittle and to fade. Incandescent light is the best. Works on paper exposed to fluorescent light should be rotated at least every 6 months, preferably out of direct fluorescent light. Without enough light, a small painting can disappear. With too much lighting a photograph will fade. Area lighting such as track lighting or recessed spotlights above the art is recommended.
Tip: Never place art in direct sunlight. It would be like planting an orchid in the desert. Be aware of what happens to the wall where your artwork is hung, as natural light changes throughout the day and from season to season.
In summary, I don’t want you to be intimidated when it comes to placing and installing your art. Instead, use these tips as a primer when installing your art yourself and when hiring professional art installers and lighting advisors.