THE ART OF HANGING FINE ART - 5 KEY FACTORS
Purchasing that special piece is only the beginning. Hanging precious paintings is an art in itself. Many of our clients have some beautiful, priceless pieces, and we always advise them consider these 5 keys factors to ensure their work of art is displayed to best advantage, will be carefully preserved without suffering damage from heat, light or humidity, and will be secure and properly insured.
It is something of a paradox - art cannot be enjoyed without light, yet all light is damaging to art. We know that traditional halogen lighting emits heat, but these bulbs also give off UV and infrared rays that can damage delicate art work. Even the intensity of the light can cause degradation because light is radiant energy.
We recommend you choose a good quality LED that reproduces 100% of the colour spectrum as this will avoid the clinical, flat look that comes from cheaper LED’s. We may also suggest that you consider engaging a professional lighting designer, perhaps one who works with museums, as their expertise will enhance and protect your precious piece for generations to come.
2 Context or Location
The presence of windows and doors, the ceiling height, type of flooring, electrical plugs and switches can all affect the way that art is perceived. In the trade, Old Masters tend to be hung slightly higher than Modern or Contemporary works, and some artists even specify just how their works should be hung.
Negative space is a key factor to consider in terms of positioning and if you have a collection of pieces, don’t be afraid to mix periods or genres.
3 Humidity & Heating
It might seem an obvious statement, but hanging valuable paintings in the bathroom is a big no-no. Humidity will lead to damp which can cause the painting to ripple and even encourage fungal growth. If you are moving into a new property, allow six months before hanging pictures on newly plastered walls. Try to keep your art collection at a relative humidity of between 50 and 60 per cent. Too much and too varied a difference can be detrimental. The same principle applies to heat, avoid hanging artwork above radiators or a fire since extreme or rapid changes in temperature can cause paper and wood to dry out and adhesives to fail. It is important to maintain a constant temperature, so this is something to bear in mind if you plan on leaving your property empty over the winter, for example.
4 Security & Safety
The cord or wire or other hanging device must be designed to support the weight of your artwork, as should the wall fixing and the structure of the wall. Specialist security fittings are also available if your paintings are to be hung in areas accessed by third parties.
Please also consider training your private staff to know and understand how they should handle and clean pieces of art as well as the picture frames.
For high value pieces, insurance companies may insist on an inventory of items and valuations. For your own piece of mind, we recommend arranging for an insurance valuation and a photographic catalogue of all your works of art and other valuables. This will help keep track of your precious possessions as well as providing proof of value and ownership should the worst ever happen. This inventory should be updated every 2-3 years to ensure values are correct. We recommend obtaining as much provenance about the pieces as possible as this helps to maintain or increase their value.
This is just one of the many areas in which we assist our clients.
Please contact us for further information or a free-of-charge personal consultation.
Due to light damage, the horse under this rider no longer exists!
Image from 'How to Care for Works of Art on Paper' Museum of Fine Arts, Boston