Now that you have found the “perfect” piece, one that really inspires you, it is time to display it. There are several steps you should take to hang fine art safely, with the correct tools and hardware, and in an optimal location- both for protecting the art and for aesthetic purposes. Now, choosing a location is a bit based on personal choice, as there is no mathematical equation (although there are some guidelines to help). For those who may need to store artwork for a while, there are some suggestions to assist in this endeavor as well. Let’s delve into the process of hanging your fine art!
Tools to Hang your Fine Art
When you prepare to hang fine art on the wall, you will need the following tools:
- Hammer (for driving the nails into the wall);
- Tape measure (for an obvious purpose);
- Level (in order that your artwork may be placed straight);
- Pencil (to mark the location you have chosen).
Hardware to Hang your Fine Art
Depending on the size, weight, and frame of your artwork, there are a variety of options to hang your art securely. Keep in mind that picture hanging hooks are usually rated by the amount of weight they can support—10 pounds, 20 pounds, 50 pounds, and so on.
- Drywall anchors: some contemporary artwork may not be framed, or not designed to be wired on the back. These anchors can be used for a variety of frameless pieces; for heavy pieces over 100 pounds, metal heavy-duty anchors are available.
- D-Rings/Strap anchors: Good for small to medium sized paintings which are framed, canvas, or with panel stretchers on which you can attach picture wire and the D-ring. When using this type of hanger, your work will sit flush against the wall and remain level. You can increase the sturdiness (and your confidence in hanging artwork) by using two D-ring hangers.
- Cleats: Used for very large works or those which cannot take D-rings. These are easy to use for all sizes of art, and are made by taking a piece of wood cut to the artwork’s width, and beveling it on a 45-degree angle. The “cleat” is screwed to the wall and the piece of art slid down over the top of the cleat.
- Concrete/mortar anchors. When hanging artwork over fireplaces (don’t hang expensive art over a fireplace!) and in stone walls, you may reach for concrete or mortar anchors. Although this can be handled by the average handyman, it may be time to involve a professional.
Deciding Where to Hang Fine Art
Consider where you want to view your new art, as well as how it will fit with existing pieces. As mentioned before, there is some personal taste to displaying art; however, there are some general tips to make the process easier.
- Art should be hung at eye level (to be fully appreciated). You don’t want to strain your neck to look at it. This means that the center of the work is at eye level for an average person.
- If you have a collection of works to be displayed, consider all the pieces together as one unit when contemplating displaying them. The eye starts on the left, so be sure to put the heaviest or most interesting piece in the middle.
- Consider the shape and size of the wall you are hanging the art on. You want to balance the art with the wall, existing pieces of art, and even the furniture in the room; scale is important. When in doubt, choose a larger rather than a smaller piece of art for a space.
- Lay out your grouping of pieces on the floor & cut brown paper out in their shapes. Then you can arrange the paper on the wall to visualize what the final arrangement will look like.
- Don’t neglect the general rules of displaying fine art: never hang fine art over a fireplace, protect it from temperature extremes, direct sunlight, and humidity variations (when possible).
Storing Fine Art
Although you likely purchased your fine art for display and enjoyment, there may be a time or circumstance where it must be stored, either temporarily or for an extended period. Before you simply set it aside in a basement/attic, or send it to a storage facility, keep in mind that your art may be vulnerable to some of the same dangers found in your home. Some pointers are:
- Clean your art before putting into storage, but don’t wrap your fine art in plastic. This can lead to mold. Keep art off the floor. If you have the room, consider hanging fine art in the storage location.
- Attics and basements are not ideal locations for in-home storage. Unfinished rooms like these often have little climate control, and basements are notorious for wetness (either in general or due to water issues). The ideal humidity for art storage is 40-50%, and temperatures are ideal at 70-75 degrees F.
- Avoid exterior rooms in your home, as windows can leak and fluctuating temperatures can cause heat and air conditioning to run more often. A dark interior room prevents damage from light and usually a more comfortable temperature.
- Keep documentation just as you would in an art storage facility; this ensures accurate information should you experience damage or loss.
- If you do not have ideal conditions for storing your art, an art-specific storage or climate-controlled storage facility can be used. Follow the same rules of thumb when choosing a location, and be sure your insurance policy covers art stored away from your property.
As in many other aspects of collecting fine art, there are art professionals who specialize in hanging and displaying art, as well as preparing art for storage. Sybaris Collection offers consulting services for a variety of aspects of art collecting; membership into our ARTclub allows you access to our network of professionals, who can assist you through your art collecting journey.