Have you had your eye on some art and you recently decided to purchase it? Are you unsure of how and where to properly hang it? Afterall, art is an investment and can be considered by some as a reflection of you and your personal tastes. It can be an intimidating task to take on; however, we have some tips to make the process as smooth as the very paint on which it’ll hand! We’ll be discussing art and mistakes you’ll want to avoid when you are ready to display it.
Before you get out your hammer and nails to hang it, make sure your newly acquired art will last for the long run. Improperly maintained art can compromise the longevity of a piece and lead to an expensive restoration further down the line – an avoidable cost we’d rather not incur. If you’re careful to watch out for these common pitfalls, your collection will be appreciated and last for generations.
You’ve Been Framed – Poorly. Hasty Framing.
A frame is as important as the art itself. There’s much more involved to framing art than initially meets the eye. An original piece, framed for the purpose of preservation, can have 10 or more components underneath the frame itself. These materials are not only meant to protect the piece, they can also enhance the viewing experience and value.
Ask any fine art archivist and you will get plenty of cautionary tales of framing-gone-wrong, mangled paintings, and costly repairs.
Proper framing should thoroughly protect a piece and ensure that the framing is reversible. If a piece of art is affixed to a framing component in a way that makes it difficult to be removed without damaging it, you could face a big problem down the road. An expert framer will carefully select and assemble framing materials with your interests in mind. Together, you both can determine glass reflectivity, mounting choices, and other stipulations unique to your wants and needs.
Although it can be done, framing original works of art is not ideal for an amateur “do it yourself” project. A professional framer will follow the industry standards and best practices designed to protect your investment. Consulting with a frame store in your area is also a great way to support your local businesses. Additionally, they’re often very knowledgeable about art!
You may think the work is over if you purchased something already framed, but it’s a wise idea to get the work inspected by a trusted professional. You never know if corners may have been cut during the framing process before the piece reached your collection.
Even the most robust frames cannot protect art from certain environmental risks. The fibers and pigments that make up a piece of art are vulnerable to subtle changes in the environment, particularly over time.
Watch out for direct sunlight and frequent changes in temperature and humidity when considering where to hang your piece. Try to avoid placing it near exterior doors or drafty windows. Also, keep an eye out for HVAC vents that might blow directly onto a piece, as this will eventually lead to some type exposure with enough time.
Hanging your best art in your bathroom is also not a very wise decision. If there’s a shower in the bathroom, the frequent condensation and steam will most likely damage the work fairly quickly. In addition, bathrooms are likely to see some of the harshest cleaning solutions used, which increases the risk of contact to the piece. Not to mention all the germs that are ever present. Your best art is something you’ll want to highlight and showcase for all to see.
Always use two nails when hanging a piece (think cabinetry hanging in a kitchen), and if it’s fairly heavy, be sure that the wall you’re hanging it on can support the weight. Try to place it on the studs in the wall, if this isn’t possible consider hanging it elsewhere or be sure to use wall anchors.
Fine art should come with supporting documents about the provenance and authenticity of the piece. Know what to look for in these documents, and have a system in place to keep them protected and organized. Make sure these documents are backed up for insurance purposes, estate planning, and future sales.
To keep everything in one place and accessible anywhere, there are several tools available for collectors to safeguard these documents.
When you first buy a piece, write down pertinent information about the purchase, including what drew you to it and how it fits in your collection. Consider an inventory system that uses fields and prompts to input essential information about a piece, as well as a section for private notes about the work. All of this supporting information should be displayed directly alongside a given piece in your inventory.
Whatever filing system you use, it’s important to be thorough when it comes to this paperwork. Unexplained gaps might diminish the value of your piece and call into question its authenticity. Re-establishing provenance can be tedious, expensive, and sometimes impossible. Effectively making your piece worthless to any prospective buyer, if you were to decide to sell.
If you’ve been admiring your latest piece a little too closely and need to wipe away some nose prints, don’t reach for glass cleaner. This can seep into the edges of the frame and may expose the work to ammonia or other solvents, creating stains. Instead, use a dry cloth. If necessary, apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol directly to the cloth and use this on the glass.
Avoid using wood polish and furniture cleaner on the frame itself. The patina of the frame could be part of the pieces antique value and can be damaged by these well-intentioned cleaning efforts. Unless a frame is seriously stained and dirty, use a rag or duster for cleaning purposes.
Protect the Future of Your Collection
Remember the painting that opened your eyes to the art world? Imagine if it had been neglected and damaged beyond repair. Be proud of the fact that you’re helping preserve the legacy of your collection, not only for yourself but also for future generations of art enthusiasts.