When it comes to displaying your works, there are no rules. You have a blank canvas, so think beyond the obvious for framing, hanging and combining.
01: Modern Art
Art and decor can work hand in hand to create a more cohesive space. Here, the contemporary aesthetic and bright opaque palette of these Fritz Hansen Series 7 chairs (incidentally, the most sold stackable chair in history) are a perfect match for the abstract work they’re paired with. However, this tableau also works because of the contrast at play – ornate antique-style moulding and cornicing provide a counter to the modern objects. The key lesson to take away here is balance.
02: Colouring outside the Lines
To display artworks, think beyond the traditional. Seeing the décor and artwork as part of the whole will help you to integrate your pieces in interesting ways, rather than simply treating them as an accessory.
2 Walls aren’t the only surface to hang frames on. Try suspending an artwork in front of a set of shelves. This creates an interesting focal point of the shelves by framing the art and objets within them.
3 Although art is meant to be seen, there are no rules when it comes to placement. Standing a piece of furniture in front of a large-scale work can create an interesting dynamic.
4 Take your frames all the way to the floor – it’s a simple idea but carries a lot of impact, especially in large open-plan spaces like this.
5 Propping a frame on a bench or sideboard, or leaning it against a wall as artist Nicky Levenberg did here, is a casual approach and dispels the idea that art is stuffy and inaccessible.
Artist and designer Nicky Levenberg takes a modern approach to making and displaying art.
Q:Displaying art isn’t nearly as rigid or as formal as it used to be. What interesting ways of presenting it have you seen?
A:It’s definitely becoming more loose and versatile. No longer is it limited to eye-level, evenly spaced configurations. I love the idea of leaning art against walls – on a server, a bench or a stack of books. The impermanence allows you to play with it and shift pieces to keep the space feeling fresh.
Q: With your own work, do you consider the environment that the piece is going into for framing, or are you led more by the artwork, and why?
A:Usually the artwork dictates the framing for me, and I err on the side of simplicity and neutrality, allowing the artwork to be the main focus. However, if artworks are made specifically with a context in mind, the environment for which it is intended becomes very important.
Q: Are homeowners showing an increasing interest in the process of choosing art for their homes?
A:Definitely. There is a strong trend to order bespoke pieces for one’s home. There seems to be great appeal in customising artwork, allowing homeowners to be very hands-on in the process.
Q: What are some of the trends you’ve noticed overall in the art-buying/making world in terms of subject matter, framing and buying?
A:Abstract and specifically geometric artwork – simplicity is key. Framing tends to also be very simple too: black, white and neutral wood or aluminium box frames. aureumdesign.com
Always consider the environment you’re hanging your artwork in – the surfaces it’s against, the colours it’s surrounded by – because these factors are as important as the frame you put it in. Colour pattern and context can play a big role in elevating a piece to its full potential.
6 There’s no reason art can’t form part of the structure of the room. Here, a vinyl panel by artist Pieter van Tonder, printed by Robin Sprong, has been applied to a glass dividing screen. The floor-to-ceiling scale and semitransparency provide both interest and privacy in this bathroom space.
7 The colour of the wall behind a work will allow it to become an extension of the painting and in so doing, create a more cohesive connection between the art and the room as a whole. In this space designed by Etienne Hanekom, a master of colour, black tones against a dark-grey wall echo the decor and create a moody atmosphere.
8 A contemporary metallic sculpture mounted on marble-panelled walls appears to float. The illusion is enhanced by the glossiness of both surfaces. When working with striking pieces, try giving them a visual link, however subtle.
9 Don’t be afraid of using pattern. Diagonal stripes as used here by Australian designer Greg Natale are the furthest thing from understated; however, since they echo the monochromatic tones of the series of portraits on it, the wallpaper doesn’t overwhelm the work.
To prevent exposure to soot and heat, avoid hanging paintings over a fireplace or a heater. Likewise, they should not be hung directly below air-conditioning ducts or in direct sunlight
Frame of Reference
A frame needn’t end at the edge of the mount. Creating framing devices beyond the work is a way to draw the eye back to it and keep it a focal point.
10 Designer Lorenzo Castillo has used an even more ornate second frame around a framed work, thus enlarging it in terms of perceived size and giving it additional impact. This quirky treatment also injects the traditional, potentially sombre, work with a sense of a playfulness.
11 An alcove in this living space by French designer Jean-Louis Deniot was purposely designed and lit to show off sculptural pieces. The result is a permanent framing device, yet the works within the space can be swapped out for others.
Dylan Culhane, a multimedia visual artist, shares some of his tips for framing, buying and showing off your artworks.
Q: Buying art is all very well, but what if you have a limited budget yet still want the gravitas of fine art?
A:Don’t dismiss prints. Dressed up the right way, they can offer major impact. Consider buying an affordable print and then spending some money on the framing, to turn it into something really special. You can get great prints for a few hundred rand, and these days there are some amazing resources online. The Rijksmuseumin Holland, for example, has a whole online library from which you can download large-scale files for free.
Q: What is the most important consideration when choosing art?
A:Context. You’d choose work differently for a personal space than you would for a corporate space, for example. I like making art that responds to an environment, something that’s informed by or that references its surroundings.
Q: And framing? How can people set their works apart?
A:For a modern space, there’s an amazing technique for framing photographs: Diasec. It entails bonding the surface of the work to a thin Perspex layer at the front and metal at the back. It’s as minimal a frame as you can get and lends a lovely intensity to the pieces. For a totally different effect, though, I also like using colourful frames rather than black or white, to let the pieces pop against the wall.
- Fritz Hansen: fritzhansen.com
- Robin Sprong: robinsprong.com
- Etienne Hanekom: etiennehanekom.com
- Greg Natale: gregnatale.com
- Dylan Culhane: dylanculhane.prosite.com
- Lorenzo Castillo: lorenzocastillo.org
- Jean-Louis Deniot: deniot.com
- The Rijksmuseum: rijksmuseum.nl/en
Text: Julia Freemantle
Photographs: Ditte Isager, Michele Andersen Photography, Global Views, Greg Cox Photography, Xavier Béjot, Manolo Yllera, supplied