04 May Breaking the Rules: Creative Ways to Display Art Like a Pro
Enough with the all black-framed gallery walls. Let’s kick the creativity up a major notch so your display is just as artistic as the works you carefully curate.
Gertrude Stein—the inimitable writer, art collector and Paris salon host—took a no rules approach to displaying her unbelievable collection of modern masters. No nook or cranny was saved.
However, she also didn’t spend thousands of dollars on expensive frames, nor did she run to IKEA and buy a bunch of black rectangles so everything could look the same.
The result was an ad hoc cacophony that made visitors feel like they were in the presence of something truly transformative. It was creativity at its finest.
BTW if you don’t know who Gertrude Stein is, stop immediately and click this link to read about one of the most important figures in modern art history.
Now I’m not saying that you should fill your home with floor-to-ceiling art à la Gertrude Stein, but I do think it’s time to approach your art display with a little more aplomb…a little more je ne sais quois.
Your display is a way to tell the story of your works, a much-needed exposition, a little guidance for how people understand the art you have chosen. It’s a reflection of you and your approach to life.
Here are a few highly creative ways to display art (not a black frame in sight).
Stop thinking about framing in the traditional frame + matting + mounting board + $$$. Let me just blow your mind here. A frame doesn’t have to be a frame.
From clipboards to hangers, you have a lot of options, so don’t feel as if you have to go the typical route. Use that imagination of yours to think outside the box (er frame).
For example, (above) clothes hangers aren’t just for clothes anymore! The simple elegant lines of the hangers compliment these unique pieces, and I love the mirror for a reflective finish.
A borderless look is achieved by sandwiching the piece with clear acrylic or glass. There are a few specific situations where a borderless frame can highlight certain design choices and elevate the entire room. I love the idea of using borderless frames with graphic wallpaper or to display art on a dark navy or black wall.
The floating illusion that this frame creates is so cool. The contrast of the colorful art suspended in the linear black and white wallpaper adds a layered look which gives this piece much more depth.
A wall full of matching black frames is probably the safest choice you can make. Actually, I consider it a non-choice…not allowed. If done correctly, mismatched frames à la Gertrude Stein can add texture and interest, they don’t have to look “haphazard”.
However, use some caution and restraint here to avoid that Anthropologie-meets-granny’s-basement look. Find some cool vintage frames or combine old with new to create a playful and unique look.
Above is a gallery wall done right! These mismatched frames lead the eye along the whole wall without lingering on one specific piece.
If you’ve already invested a ton of time and money in finding the perfect art for your space, you may not want to spend the additional money on expensive frames. Lucky for you, this is one of those time you can actually save some bones!
There are so many DIY and budget framing options. If you’re even remotely creative, you’ll have a fantastic time putting them together.
A great example above is one budget option that uses simple linear shapes and colors to make a bold statement. The framing directly speaks to the pieces and pulls from the art using complimentary colors and shapes.
The No-Frame Frame
Depending on the type of art you are displaying, you may choose to skip the frame altogether. Shelving and wooden racks are another interesting choice, especially if you want to combine your art with other accessories.
This display almost looks like a magazine rack in a waiting room of a doctor’s office, but I love the new take on this idea. Using similar pieces of art displayed so simply really creates a high impact wall.
Hopefully I’ve freed you from some of those old-fashioned ideas you may have been holding onto when it comes to framing art. Consider this your permission slip to embrace your crazy American-living-in-Paris aesthetic and toss that stale “design rule” out your perfectly framed French doors onto the cobblestone street below.
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