Tips On Choosing And Framing Artwork For Your Home

Many homes aren’t in need of an extreme makeover, a drastic renovation, or a time-consuming remodel. Their interiors are just fine, pleasant, but often blank. How many walls in your home are bare simply because you don’t know what to put there? Sometimes, homeowners resort to tacking up a few pictures they find at a thrift store or random images they’ve been given just for lack of anything better to display. Real art is expensive, after all, and only rich people and museums can afford to buy it, right?

Of course not. There are many forms of art that are affordable and tasteful and perfect for a homeowner with refined or elegant tastes. Mark Leithauser, senior curator and director of design at the National Gallery of Art in Washington buys art for a living, and he had some tips for homeowners wondering how to tastefully display art in their homes.

Artwork Is Subjective
First of all, he urged people to remember, “Display of art is subjective,” and “There is no right or wrong way to do it.” That may come as a shock, especially from an art expert such as him. But unlike mathematics or grammar with all their rules, art in the end should be pleasing to you first, and the rest of the world second.

You May Already Own Artwork
“Most people have prints, drawings—things with mats and frames,” Leithauser said. “You start with your object, with what you own. You want the work of art to be the strongest possible thing.” So the art you hang might not be purchased at all. It might be something you already own. Pictures of family members, pictures from old books, photos of your ancestors, drawings by your children are all considered works of art.

Framing And Matting Prints
If you buy a print intending to frame it yourself, Leithauser warned that if you use a frame “that is stronger than the work of art, then you’ve detracted from the work of art.” Don’t think of a frame as a statement. Rather, it’s an enhancement of a picture. Sometimes you may choose to mat the artwork, which means there’s a border between it and the frame. Leithauser explained that you’ll want to stay away from a stark white mat. “Paintings get little cracks in them as they get older,” he said. “They look grungy, a little bit sad, a little bit dirty. They pop on a gray much better than on a stark, stark white.”

In the end, art is merely in the beholder’s eye. Don’t just buy a piece of art because someone told you it’s art. Buy things that appeal to your interests. After all, as Leithauser pointned out, “You live with what you like.”

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