I don't understand why people always think that just everybody can hang art without exactly knowing what s/he is doing. Hanging art is an art in itself and I boldly make the statement that even gallerists do not know sometimes how to hang art for its best appearance and largest impact. A short while ago I have seen art being hung in an exhibition where I would have wept in rage if I had been the artist. I have seen many many bad examples and seldom really good ones.
The problem in a gallery is that you have expensive space - very expensive - and you need to make the best of it for your profit. This again means you need to offer as many objects as possible for sale. You can do this either in a cohesive way - similar paintings in one place - that's why galleries often look for artists working in a similar style - or varied. This means many different styles and artists. Still you need to group the objects and place them either in a similar context or you place them as opposed to one another, contradictional. There are many possibilities but the main requirement is still balance no matter in which way you achieve that.
Similar issues apply to an exhibition in a venue or museum. A museum wants to sell tickets and has to offer somthing. Often spaces are cramped and this is not good for the art either. I wished they would rather change their exhibits more often - which could be done in a gallery too despite the additional work but I am sure there would be much more success. I could go on with this issue for ages and I dream to have a gallery of my own one day.
You don't have this problem at home normally besides that you may be constraint regarding space. Again - less is more if you want to really show off something. If you love to buy art and collect it, wouldn't it be the best idea to designate certain spaces in a house where you could install a hanging system and easily change your art? Wouldn't this be fun?
And if you want only 2 or 3 pieces for decoration I recommend taking your time and look thoroughly for it. There is nothing more disappointing than doing this in a rush. Get yourself some people to ask for their opinion, ask for a piece of art being in your house for a few weeks in order to decide whether it feels right or not. Galleries sometimes offer that. Or rather ask the artist her/himself if s/he would do this for a small fee if you don't buy the art piece in the end. Everything can be negotiated. I am sure many artists would agree to such a deal.
You need to have a feeling for hanging art AND the knowledge about placing an object in a certain environment. You need to KNOW about balance and harmony, about colours and scales just the same way as you would design a room or construct a painting. The same rules apply anywhere.
- balance - symmetrical or assymmetrical
- proportion - refers to the relationship between objects
- rhythm - repetion of forms and colour, flowing lines
- emphasis - creating a point of focus or interruption, achieved by using contrasts, creating an isolation point within neutrals, repetition
- unity - must be guaranteed as a whole in underlying structures, consistency in colours and form, a concept must be recognized
There are 2 major possibilities how you find the right art for your room - either you design a room around a piece of art which would apply for one or two very special pieces, expensive or not but with a very personal attachment or you have to find art that "matches" your interior and fulfills the basic requirements of good design.
Now I am showing a couple of examples what you definitely should NOT do regarding proportion and direction:
do NOT place a vertically oriented painting above an object that is vertically oriented also as in this sketch:
The proportion of the following is completely out of order - placing a huge mirror or painting or other wall piece above a small seating is a no-no that is often ignored...
Do NOT overdo your matching colours - this can end up in a dead rhythm as in the following example...
Regarding repetition - if you have a piece of furniture with a very agitated pattern you should not place a painting with an agitated motif above it otherwise you end up in agitating yourself...
Don't overdo matching colour as in this example - no rhythm but rather stand-still - it is drop dead boring and lifeless...
Even if you might have found a lovely painting to match the subject and colours - there is simply too much repetition...
The following example is completely out of focus - the eye has no place to rest upon - a room such as this makes you dizzy...
And here is another example which really should be avoided - to place objects in front of a painting. Where is the emphasis here? This looks absolutely aweful. It is the same situation when lamps or candle holders are in the middle of your face when you sit opposite to a person you are dining with...
You may have had a concept when you designed your room but if the above rules are not followed your design will not be a real composition (unity). I see many interiors where I have the feeling that the designer did not follow any of these rules and was just desperately looking for creating some new "trend". And when it comes to art works especially and what has been chosen and how it has been placed - it is even worse. I cannot believe what here is often "sold" to the client. The wits seem to have been gone completely - as if a child had started to play with a new game and soon lost its interest. Instead of considering art as a major design element of a room it is left in the basement's junkroom. No wonder that people often feel awkward about choosing the right art.
I wonder how often interior designers work with real artists and ask for their opinion directly instead of a gallery owner or art dealer?