Art: In the Eye of the Beholder … or the Installer?

Edgar Degas is quoted as saying “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Well, if you’re lucky enough to have a collection of works by Claude Lalanne, Jean Dubuffet, Claudio Bravo, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Fernando Botero, David Smith or Louise Nevelson, you’ll need a highly skilled design practitioner to help “make others see.” That’s when you call interior designer Jeffrey Hitchcock who’s arranged extraordinary collections for clients. However, for a mere mortal’s assortment, his display techniques still apply.

First and foremost, scale is critical. Does the piece “fit” the room? A tiny painting in the middle of a long hallway will never be appreciated. Second, the flow: how does one’s eye travel from one piece of art to another? Is it jarring or soothing? Third, arrange disparate collectables together and forget “matchy matchy” which is inherently boring. Next, there’s balance. Distribute pieces evenly through the entire space and not simply grouped over the fireplace hearth. Fifth, once the final arrangement pleases you, light it properly! This aspect is often overlooked yet makes all the difference. Finally, place artifacts in unexpected places such as bathrooms, kitchens, and even near the back door. Art nourishes the soul–position it where you’ll see it often.