There is a careful consideration that goes into installing and displaying a new work of art. Even the seemingly easy task of hanging a painting on a wall or installing a sculpture requires your complete attention and care. The slightest mistake can turn into a disaster and potentially end up costing you a lot of money.
The American International Group, a leading international insurance organization noted, “Most of us buy insurance to protect our belongings from “external” factors: flooding, fire, theft, etc. However, our claims experience has shown that over half of fine art damage is due to breakage/accidental damage.” It is extremely important for you to be careful not just while installing original pieces of art but also while they’re displayed. The usage of cheap hardware or improper installation can result in breakage and even loss of the piece. If the surrounding area is affected by moisture and dampness, the artwork may also be permanently damaged. Even sunlight can cause harm to works of art, especially oil paintings.
Watching a work of art interact with your personal space and create a dialogue that echoes your style and personality, is almost magical. However, there is more to it than meets the eye. In this second edition of our Caring For Your Art series, we are going to talk about the basics of art installation, some precautions you should take during the process and why it is important for you to do it right.
Installing and displaying works of art in your home is an art in itself. Although the purpose of art has always been improving the aesthetics of a space, the concept of interacting and creating a dialogue with the surroundings came to prominence in the 1970s with the advent of Minimalist Art. Since then, collectors and home-owners alike have used this concept to create a unified setting within the space and to accentuate its overall presence.
When purchasing art, it is always best to keep the space that it is intended for in mind. Spend some time observing the room or area carefully. Try to visualize the kind of art that would create a perfect dialogue with the furnishing like the color of the wall, the style of the furniture, the type or curtains and other elements of the room. Would a tasteful portrait or a dreamy landscape fit better with your classic carved furniture? A vibrant abstract painting or some poetic black-and-white fine art photograph to highlight the urban feel of the space? It is important that the kind of art you choose blends in with the atmosphere of the room. The main objective is to create a balance while maintaining the focus on the work of art.
The size of the work is a factor that needs to be considered even before finalizing the purchase of the artwork. Make sure that once the work is installed there is enough space around it. A painting displayed on a crowded wall can make the room feel cramped and congested. Similarly, an extra-large sculpture in a small room can take up a lot of useful space and, naturally, all the attention. As a rule of thumb, you must always leave some empty space around the work. Even if you plan to display a number of works on the same wall, equal spacing between them will balance the whole arrangement.
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If you are new to this, our number one recommendation is to take the help of professional art installers. Simply search online for the best local professionals and give them a call. These people have years of experience and, more often than not, do a great job with the installation. Most galleries, including Agora Gallery, also offer these services to make it easier for you. However, if you are experienced and feel confident enough, you can also do this yourself.
Either way, there are some precautions that you need to take even if someone else is doing it for you. Guy Morey, the Head of Momart‘s Technical Services, advises, “Be cautious. Stop and reconsider what you are doing when you have the slightest concern.”
Line Of Vision
The most important thing about installing art is to get the arrangement in terms of its visual distance right. Make sure that the work is displayed at a good eye-level. 156 centimeters from the floor to the center of the work of art is the best distance, however, you may need to use your discretion depending on the wall size. Even when arranging multiple works on the wall, the work that is lowest should be at a good height so that the viewer does not have to bend to look at the work.
Get The Best-Quality Equipment
First things first, note down the dimensions of the framed work or sculpture, including its weight. Make sure the equipment and hardware you or the professional art handlers are using, are of the best quality. It should be built to support the weight and height of the work. As a general precautionary rule, the holding equipment should be able to support 25% more weight than the total weight of your artwork.
Research online and look at the options available to you. There is no point in taking a chance with bad or cheaper hardware. Choosing appropriate tools will prove to be much more profitable than bearing the expenses of repair. There are a number of hanging systems available in the market depending on the type of artwork that needs to be installed. Consult with a professional or do some thorough research about which system would best meet your requirements. Standard wire hanging systems and commercial wall hangers are not recommended for high-value works of art.
Keep Away From Sunlight And Moisture
Fine art must be installed in a place that is away from direct sunlight to avoid permanent damage.
If you live in an area experiencing high temperatures, it’s best to install art in a room that is air-conditioned. You should also check for any dampness or flaking on the wall. Moisture can harm a painting or photograph even through a secure backing.
You can take an extra precautionary step and make sure that the artwork is framed correctly. If it can be placed behind a glass, ask for a UV protective material. Additionally, take a look behind the frame to ensure that its backing is made of moisture-resistant cardboard.
Installing and displaying your art properly and periodically checking the hardware for any damages can really add to the life of your work. Even the slightest carelessness can damage your work of art significantly. Just as the artworks in your personal space are a reflection of your personality, proper installation and maintenance of these works echoes your passion for art. Surround yourself with art you love, but do it right! Like Ezra Taft Benson said, “Encourage good music and art and literature in your homes. Homes that have a spirit of refinement and beauty will bless the lives of your children forever.”
Need some specific advice regarding your art collection or help in starting afresh? Benefit from our curatorial services! To know more, contact us at [email protected]
Check back for more articles in our Caring For Your Art series.
Tanya Singh is a budding art historian and writer. She is currently pursuing her postgraduate studies at the LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. With a versatile portfolio, she has over three years of experience in writing as well as editing.