I couldn’t imagine living without art. Every time I move, art is the first order of unpacking business–and until it is on the walls, an apartment cannot feel like home.
Suffice it to say, as a New Yorker with an art habit, a theme has emerged: little wall space and lots to hang.
I have never shied away from hanging works in clusters or “salon style,” but I’ve always been careful not to overcrowd a surface. Too much art, and I can’t appreciate each piece. Too little, and most of my collection remains in a closet. Below, I have a few snapshots showing how I’ve chosen to display art in my 700 square foot home!
Here’s the main wall in my apartment, organized in clusters. On the right are some fabulous prints after 19th century engravings; on the left are works by self-taught and contemporary artists.
A better look at the cluster seen above, including works by JJ Cromer and Chris Hipkiss, among others.
Further along that main wall, into the hallway: two fantastic large drawings by Thornton Dial as well as works by Donald Mitchell, Shepard Fairey, and others. One of the problems with a small New York apartment is getting enough distance from a work to read it in its entirety, so I’ve placed the Dials (the largest works I own) in the space where the hallway opens to the living room. That way, you can both encounter them up close, and then step back to read them from a distance:
Also in the hallway is a play on black and white and different textures: an etching by Swoon, and a drip painting by Paul Richard.
I have never believed that works need to be hung together based solely on their time/point of origin, material, or defined genre. All sorts of interesting combinations of objects can emerge if you let them. Here, I have a paper mache giraffe head, an Edward Tufte chart, and a fabulous watercolor of a morel mushroom with goat legs by Amy Ross. I’ve arranged them together based on color and scale, and I think each is made more interesting because of the conversation between the three.
And, lest you think art is reserved for walls, I’ve made excellent use of built-in bookshelves as well! Here, I have a bird shadowbox, a duck decoy, and a drawing by Malcolm McKesson. While most of my shelves are used for books (and, as an art historian, I have PLENTY of beautiful books), every once in a while, it’s nice to reserve a nook for an intimate cluster of objects. These pieces, which are relatively small, would get lost on a larger wall. In such an enclosed space, however, they have a chance to shine.