Salon Style, Part One: Eight Ideas for Hanging a Collection

[singlepic id=461 w=460 h=400 float=] No, this is not a post about my latest haircut (most common reaction: did you mean to do that? answer: no.)

Actually this is a topic I've been meaning to get into for a while, and December Small Works Season seems a good time for it. Over and over again at art shows, people say, "I love that but my walls are full." If you are trying to fit in that latest art show treasure, but can't think where you could possibly hang it, this post might be for you.

First ask yourself this: are your walls really, really full? Top to bottom, side to side? If not, you might have a good opportunity to hang some of your collection salon style. Salon style is a method of hanging art that takes full advantage of the space available, using many vertical levels in addition to maxing out the horizontal space. (Check out my example on the wall of 1900 in Spokane, WA, above.)

There are many ways to approach this kind of hanging, and it can seem overwhelming. But there are a few things you can keep in mind to help control the chaos and make for a fun project and an attractive grouping of your favorite work. Here are eight ideas to help you on your way.

  1. Start from the middle using the largest pieces to anchor the group.
  2. Plan the arrangement ahead of time to save frustration and plaster (more on this later).
  3. Mix up horizontal and vertical pieces for interest.
  4. Line up one edge of the first two pieces and use the resulting horizontal and vertical lines as an axis for the next pictures.
  5. Keep the overall shape of the grouping asymmetrical but balanced from side to side. (Think of two equal glasses of wine spilled next to one another---the shapes are different, but the size of each spill is the same.)
  6. Keep the space between each piece the same on all sides (my spaces are about four inches in the photo above).
  7. Find a way to unify the pieces. In this case there is a lot of unity since the work is all my own pastel work, and framed alike. But you might put together work from different artists with similar palettes, unframed pieces you have had framed the same way, work that is all the same medium, size, or subject.
  8. Remember, there are no rules. This is your art collection, a group of things you love, and you can hang it together however you like. The common element is you.

Check back later this week, when I will post detailed instructions on planning a grouping of pictures, including a wall- and aspirin-saving trick that will make hanging the work almost fun.