I recently attended the opening of my tenth gallery show. I’ve spoken before about how much hard work goes into art, but that work isn’t over just because you have all the pieces done. The display of your work is almost as important as the time and labor that went into making it.
There are a few things you have to think about while you are making work for a show that can save you a lot of headache. The first one is how much work you need to produce in order to fill the space you are allotted. The second is the size of your pieces in relation to the specific needs of the space. I’m not saying that there is only one correct way to hang any specific body of work, but to show it off to the best advantage, it is a good idea to take the space into consideration. For instance, are there two five-foot walls on either side of a door? Perhaps you should make pieces of the same size to go on either side to make a pleasing visual harmony.
In my case, I also had to consider cord management since most of my pieces are powered by electricity. Above is an image of one main wall of the gallery my work is currently hanging in. You can see that the cords are wrapped neatly around the hanging system. This was a workaround we came up with after seeing what the cords looked like when allowed to just do what they wanted. Below is an image of a piece without the cord wrapped. Visually, it is much more distracting.
Another really important thing to consider is lighting. Most of my pieces are iluminated, and I didn’t want the gallery lighting to fight with that. Because of this, the show was scheduled early in the year – to minimize the amount of light from the large windows in the gallery that would wash out the effect of my work. We also pointed the track lighting in the gallery at the floor in front of the work. This provided enough light to see the craftsmanship of each piece without inhibiting the effect of the lights on the overall visual integrity of each piece. However, I did do four small art-jewelry pieces that required lighting. We worked hard to attain a soft light that wouldn’t contrast harshly with the rest of the lighting in the room.
There is a lot more than that which goes into the install of a show, but I hope this gives you a taste of what kind of considerations need to be made when hanging a body of work.