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Hanging work for an exhibition



The Shadow Hole

Yearly college students and employees debate over the hanging of labor. So, earlier than we hit exhibition season some issues to think about.

Hanging drawings and work is concerning the development of a really shallow area for skinny objects to be skilled inside. Central to an understanding of this area, is the truth that bodily and perceptually all our earth certain experiential areas are ‘anisotropic’. I.e. these areas exhibit properties with totally different values when measured in several instructions. For these of us that inhabit a large bodily object such because the planet Earth, because of this the experiences now we have of upwardness are very totally different to the experiences now we have of downwardness, primarily due to the results of gravity. Most exhibition areas will rely on partitions, skinny objects, designed to have the ability to fight the results of gravity and it’s due to this fact the wall itself that will probably be of preliminary concern. *

If you’re ever involved with operating knowledgeable gallery area you’ll at one time or one other most likely have an argument concerning the want for a ‘shadow hole’ and the shadow hole is all about how we take into consideration visible weight.  So what is that this about? 

Bauhaus educating was based mostly on a return to basic rules of visible language. Artists equivalent to Paul Klee made diagrams to make clear what was taking place after which later theorists equivalent to Rudolf Arnheim, tried to take these concepts and refine them additional. 

Paul Klee

As you may see from Klee’s drawing above, all our experiences are to begin with experiences which have to answer a power that drags the whole lot in the direction of the centre of the Earth. (Plummet and stability). Nonetheless, as Klee factors on the market are additionally areas of freer motion and dynamism. Rudolf Arnheim wrote a number of books attempting to clarify intimately how this works, however earlier than we have a look at what he needed to say, maybe we have to re-look at our wall. 

Wall with shadow hole

A wall with no visible break between itself and the ground is phenomenologically extra ‘actual’ than with out. It exerts its ‘presence’ and it has ‘weight’. In case you add a skirting board, this brings to the scenario as Klee places it, ‘a freer motion and dynamism’. The skirting board will be considered the cuff on the finish of your shirt sleeve, it visually finishes off a size of fabric, it zips across the edge and kinds a visible cease to a vertical fall. Nonetheless to be able to do that it contains an additional bodily component and in doing so, provides visible muddle. 

Wall with and with out skirting.

If you’re a sculptor, the wall assembly the ground with out a hole is okay, particularly in case your work is concerning the actuality of the supplies used and their relation to gravity. In sculptural phrases, the skirting board seems to be naff as a result of it’s attempting to cover the truth of the scenario. Nonetheless in an ornamental inside, the place the partitions are sometimes considered an ornamental fantasy, the skirting and because it extends itself, the dado, might be important. The modernist perfect begins with a horror of ornament, (locations the place germs can conceal), and it espouses a fact to materials aesthetic, a kind of ‘what you see is what you get’ aesthetic sensibility. Nonetheless, the ‘White Dice’ of an exhibition area, we have been all taught by Brian O’Doherty isn’t impartial, so even earlier than we get to hold something on these partitions, we enter a contested area, one which the shadow hole debate highlights as an oscillating bodily and religious drama. With out it a wall exerts its full visible weight, with it the wall is ‘floated’ right into a extra aesthetic or contemplative area. Some artists regard their work as speaking initially through a sure ‘objectness’ or a bodily presence, some regard their work extra as a window inside which they want an viewers to ponder an thought. Selection of wall and the place an object goes on that wall, is due to this fact very important to their aesthetic sensibility. 

The skirting board ‘framing’ the wall.

If you’re to treat the wall as each a bodily actuality and in addition as a particular area inside which different ‘aesthetic’ guidelines apply, the shadow can hole permit this. On the one hand it introduces no new bodily component into the scenario, besides ‘a niche’. This hole visually separates the wall from the ground and the one different time we see this occur is when weight is supported by different issues. 

A big object with shadow gaps between the perimeters of a pallet’s picket helps

Usually if we eliminated the picket blocks that maintain up the field it would drop down, but when we do and it does not drop, now we have a scenario whereby one thing invisible is holding it up and that is essential because it opens a query within the thoughts, maybe a small one, however one which questions gravity and weight and our perceptual consciousness. “Might it’s”, our mind asks of the shadow hole, “that this wall is floating?” A query that’s each a bodily one and a metaphysical one, which is why generally the shadow hole can work for each sorts of work. It’s a very contested factor and nobody has ever had a definitive answer. 

You might have most likely already labored out that various kinds of pictures or work, must be constructed on various kinds of floor and you could assert or undermine the physicality of the work you might be exhibiting, by to begin with giving consideration to the wall towards which the work will sit. However what kind of consideration? Floor texture, lighting, dimensions, color, proportion or edge high quality, all of this stuff will visually form our expertise. For Rudolf Arnheim the whole lot seen is a part of a visible discipline of forces and these forces are attractors that power us to look in sure methods. Due to this fact all of the formal parts that underpin visible pondering will be bundled collectively as the assorted parts that make up fields of visible power dynamics. 

Rudolf Arnheim believed that notion and thought act reciprocally. If he was taking a look at our wall he would most likely direct our consideration to the diagram beneath of the visible forces at play.

If we’re confronted with only a sq. wall with nothing connected to it, Arnheim would to begin with visualise the forces working as concentric circles emanating out from the centre. Nonetheless he would level out that on the identical time now we have an consciousness of verticality, therefore a collection of vertical traces of power function in relation to the vertical edges of the wall and horizontal ones in relation to prime and backside. Thus vitality each radiates from a centre and strikes horizontally and vertically. New centres start to radiate out when new moments of consciousness come into focus. As an illustration the corners of the wall are dynamic spots as a result of a robust horizontal meets a robust vertical. These are the wall’s radiating forces and are what we disturb after we start hanging work. We in impact puncture the dynamics by inflicting adjustments in visible weight as we usher in work to place onto the wall.

As quickly as you started placing something onto the wall, Arnheim would most likely direct your consideration to the gestalt principle of visible stability. 

Gestalt principle of visible stability

As you may see from this, Arnheim if hanging pictures on the wall, would have a look at stability in relation to an invisible fulcrum. If utilized to a wall and its dangle, you may need a scenario such because the one beneath. The bigger tall rectangle is nearer to the centre as a result of it has extra visible weight and due to this fact it may be balanced by a smaller sq. additional off centre. 

The invisible fulcrum is central to the width of the wall

Nonetheless if the smaller sq. begins to exhibit an additional visible high quality, equivalent to a color, this adjustments its visible weight. So as to stability this, the bigger rectangle has to maneuver to the appropriate.

A much less color saturated bigger rectangle balancing a extremely color saturated smaller sq.

Nonetheless this doesn’t keep in mind our intuitive consciousness of gravity or the complete vector impact in relation to the fields of enticing power within the diagram additional above. 

Taking a look at our intuitive consciousness of gravity first; the spacing of a body round a picture typically takes that into consideration. In “Framing Photos” by J.T. Burns, it states {that a} margin round an image needs to be 7.5 cms on the prime and sides and eight.8 cms on the base. The rationale for not having the margin equal on all 4 sides is defined like so: “The additional width on the backside creates an optical stability with out which the bottom seems to be narrower than it truly is.” (p.40) In ‘An Introduction to Image Framing’ by Vivien Frank, the instructed dimensions of the edges and prime are given as 8 cms, and the underside 9 cms. (p. 30) and Peter Bingham’s “Image Framing” states, ‘if a mat is minimize with all its borders equal in width, the underside border will seem narrower than the highest. That is an optical phantasm, however one which must be compensated for.’ (p.34) Non of those books on framing attempt to clarify how or why this ‘optical phantasm’ exists. 

As a result of the whole lot on the planet has a deep relation to gravity, specific kinds have come about. So as to stand up towards gravity, quite than crawl alongside the bottom, human beings, like so many shifting animals have developed with bi-lateral symmetry. If you wish to stand erect, it’s good to align your self to the plumb-line of gravity. Think about a wall trying to maintain standing if it was constructed off vertical. If a wall is constructed upright or on flat floor, the centre of gravity (blue dot) is immediately above the centre level of the wall’s foundations (yellow dot), so the wall is steady. But when a wall is constructed on sloping floor, the centre of gravity is now not above the centre of the bottom. Now gravity (purple arrow) creates a second (inexperienced arrow) that suggestions the wall over. The upper the wall, the better the mass above the centre of gravity, the better the turning power and the extra probability the wall will collapse. Bilateral symmetry permits the wall and ourselves to face up tall with out having to have a large base. 

We all know this proper right down to our bones, as a result of this is the reason we’re the form we’re and all that effort to stand up, has additionally resulted to our principal sense organs being positioned as far up as they could possibly be. 

A six foot excessive human in relation to a 12 foot excessive wall

Nonetheless, due to the facility of gravity, all of the bone engineering evolution that has been undertaken over tens of millions of years has solely allowed us to boost our sense organs up a couple of ft. Superb weight-reduction plan has seen the typical peak improve not too long ago, besides the typical male peak within the UK is just 5ft 9in and the typical feminine peak is now 5ft 3in. Due to this fact the determine within the diagram above is barely too tall even for a male, however the massive challenge does not change. Even when we have been wanting on the world’s tallest man, Sultan Kösen, who’s 8 ft 2.82 in tall, his eyes can’t be larger above the bottom than 8 ft. Our principal visible consciousness of gravity influenced indications is in that space beneath the eyes, and as we glance up, and up and up, we are going to after all ultimately be capable to see so far as the solar or the celebs, an virtually as compared, infinite distance. We glance down and there are limits, and inside these limits we’re additionally used to searching for issues which may impact us. Due to gravity, a big a part of the lively world lies near the bottom and right here we would discover snakes.

Psychologically this has formed the best way we predict. The quantity of blue sky we will see will be associated to our moods. We are able to really feel oppressed or fenced in on darkish days with low cloud cowl. It’s conversely exhilarating to climb to the highest of a hill and look down upon the world. Once we really feel down or depressed we will are inclined to stroll with our heads down, however when excited and blissful we maintain our heads up. 

All of this relates again to the wall that we’re about to hold work on and why framers like to go away barely extra space on the backside of the picture. I keep in mind going to Glasgow College of Artwork for considered one of their diploma reveals again when the Macintosh Constructing hadn’t burnt down. One of many first issues I seen was that the partitions that had been erected for the present have been 12 ft excessive. I had solely seen this as soon as earlier than for a level present and this was at Chelsea again within the late 70s. Two vertical 8 by 4 ft boards, had been topped by a horizontal one. Each Chelsea and Glasgow prided themselves on the professionalism of their presentation and the additional peak modified the whole lot when it got here to the precise expertise of the work.  

Rising the peak of the wall

I perceive that it’s not at all times lifelike or inexpensive to extend wall peak, however in case you can embody wall peak in together with your presentation pondering, equivalent to stipulating that it’s good to present on a wall of no less than x ft excessive, be sure you accomplish that. 

The additional peak provides the exhibition area the potential to develop into psychologically spiritually uplifting, at 8ft it’s nonetheless firmly rooted into our human area, 
Sultan Kösen would as an illustration discover it degree together with his eyes. At 12 ft the partitions are tall sufficient to visually and due to this fact mentally, launch us from gravity’s attraction. I.e. when you have any management over the scenario, be sure that the partitions you present on are of a good peak. On a smaller scale, if you’re framing a picture, take into consideration lifting it visually by giving extra space beneath the picture than above. 

The brand new place of the 2 rectangles makes us extra conscious of the decrease a part of the wall, which can or will not be applicable to the work; which now brings us again to these ‘fields of enticing power’. 

Ian Davenport

Beginning on the backside of the wall, work equivalent to Ian Davenport’s is so gravity acutely aware that the wall towards which it may be proven can not have shadow gaps. The verticality of the paint stripes actually runs downwards, as a result of that’s the manner the paint runs. The visible dynamics of the work are compressed right into a rectangle with a damaged backside edge. The portray, in impact is handled as you’ll a sculpture. 

John McCracken

I first noticed John McCracken’s work within the ‘Artwork of the Actual’ exhibition on the Tate Gallery within the late Sixties. His work have been strong blocks of color and he merely lent them towards the wall. Discover within the picture above the gallery has given the wall towards which the work rests a shadow hole. This permits the work two contradictory readings. It has reasserted its ‘objectness’ by turning into like a plank lent towards a wall, however this isn’t simply any wall, this can be a gallery wall, extra weightless than a standard one, topic to aesthetic regard, thus elevating the blue into the realm of color discipline portray and different ‘painterly’ issues. McCracken put it like this, “I see the plank as current between two worlds, the ground representing the bodily world of standing objects, bushes, vehicles, buildings, [and] human our bodies, … and the wall representing the world of the creativeness, illusionist portray area, [and] human psychological area.”

It is rather helpful to check McCracken’s use of the wall/flooring angle with Chris Ofili’s. Ofili typically used to relaxation his pictures on arduous dried elephant dung that had a varnish utilized over it. This was after all symbolically essential, however by elevating the work from the ground on this manner the work got a niche or area between themselves and the ground, due to this fact though the dung provides the work related earthy weight, they declare affinity to the wall, as McCracken put it, to “the world of the creativeness, illusionist portray area, the human psychological area.” 

Nonetheless Ofili’s work is figurative, ‘No Girl, No Cry’ is a portrait of an actual mom, and though the artist has solely painted the highest half of her physique, the remainder of her can within the thoughts be seen as extending down into the bottom beneath the 2 balls of elephant dung; balls that declare the bottom for a uniquely African animal, a floor from which traditionally this lady may make a declare as coming from. 

The compositional impact of incomplete figures inside a picture, complicates the lever system that’s utilized by the gestalt principle of visible stability. As Arnheim places it, ‘the balancing of weights inside a portray doesn’t rely merely on the purely quantitative extent of the areas….however quite on the burden and site of the centres equipped by the visible objects….If, nonetheless, the given elements of an object level compellingly towards a centre outdoors the body, that centre, though not seen, will take part with its weight and site within the play of compositional forces.’ (Arnheim, 2009, P.62) Arnheim was writing about composition inside a portray, however precisely the identical factor applies to the balancing of pictures when establishing the composition of a wall of work.

Maybe earlier than we start to maneuver our portray onto the wall, we should always return to the concept of the peak of human beings. The three work now we have simply checked out all had a transparent relationship with the ground in addition to the wall. They made us conscious of our ft in addition to our heads. Once we have a look at a free floating picture, whether or not its centre is above or beneath our centre of imaginative and prescient, goes to be an essential a part of the expertise. So, going again to the peak statistics, the common male 5ft 9in and common feminine 5ft 3in, common peak is due to this fact 5ft 6in and common eye degree is roughly 3 inches beneath that at 5ft 3in. Which signifies that something above 5ft 3 inches requires an individual of common peak to be wanting upwards. This, it appears to me causes a direct downside. We’re not all of common peak and if my private expertise is said to my peak, an expertise designed for somebody not my peak will probably be unsuitable for me. 

Athena Cooper reveals work in ‘Can You See Us Vancouver?’ 

The hanging peak was determined upon by the featured artists, who have been all wheelchair customers 

The actual fact is at Leeds Arts College the vast majority of folks wanting on the partitions will probably be feminine, so ought to the peak for eye degree be 5 ft? Or is eye degree the unsuitable manner to consider a selected peak? In case you go surfing one can find that the golden rule for hanging an image is to have the centre of the picture at 57 inches. The web site I checked out goes on to say, “this displays the usual eye-height of the typical particular person, and is used as a typical in most artwork galleries and museums.” Which is an attention-grabbing declare because it suggests common peak is just 60 inches or 5 ft tall. For a wide range of causes 57 inches is usually the museum commonplace and a measuring stick minimize to 57 inches was at one time at all times accessible to be used within the studio at any time when we have been hanging work and any deviation from that as a centre needed to be rigorously argued for. 

Centre dangle at 57 inches on an 8 ft excessive wall

Through the use of the 57 inch rule and centring the whole lot we get what I name an inside designer’s dangle. It seems to be good and does not make something stand out, i.e. all of the work ‘matches in’. That is typically the dangle of consensus as a result of it kind of is okay. 

Lets evaluate it to a horizontal rule, whereby we dangle alongside a line. 

The invisible shelf

The invisible washing line

Setting pictures towards an invisible line suggests some kind of invisible resistance and due to this fact permits you to give extra weight to the photographs. 

Laercio Redondo   

You would after all as a substitute of an invisible shelf, put an actual skinny shelf alongside the gallery wall and lean the work towards it, simply as how Laercio Redondo  has completed above. Once I used to run the Workshop Press Gallery, for his exhibition Benedict Phillips erected one steady slim shelf of an analogous design to Redondo’s, that went proper across the 4 gallery partitions. Guests have been allowed to then curate their very own partitions by merely carrying the work from one wall to a different, sliding works to at least one facet and putting new work within the gaps. This works for work or pictures on boards, however does not work so effectively for works on canvas.

Amy Sillman

Or within the case of Amy Sillman she has made actual the invisible washing line. This could work for un-stretched canvas or works on paper, however once more, not so good for works on stretched canvas. 

Each these approaches work effectively if you wish to give extra bodily presence to the work. Conversely when Jill Mulleady was being proven on the Arsenale in a latest Venice Biennale her canvases have been set into the wall and made flush with their surrounding floor. 

Jill Mulleady

By sinking the photographs into the wall Mulleady is ready to get away from the ‘objectness’ of the work and in doing so seeks to achieve a story unity in an analogous technique to how a collection of wordless graphic novel pictures would possibly work collectively. I wasn’t satisfied although and if she needed to emulate graphic novels, maybe she may have had the work printed and pasted up. This was for me all about technicians proving that they might make an awesome end and that then folks would spend a number of time wanting carefully to see if they might spot the way it was completed. I.e. I remembered the type of show quite than the character of the work. 

Color and its saturation

As quickly as we start so as to add different parts, visible weight and related dynamics change. 

Goya and El Greco: St Peter

A to not scale comparability of Goya and El Greco. Each artists require an consciousness of gravity for us to grasp their pictures. Goya to help the grounding of St Peter because the rock on which the church is constructed; El Greco to help an consciousness of St Peter’s religious arising. By putting the 2 on the invisible shelf, Goya will get the required weight and El Greco rises appropriately. You would maybe modify the spacing however not by a lot. Arnheim’s methodology of utilizing an invisible central fulcrum means we aren’t tempted to even the gaps out, this creates a way more dynamic composition, permitting each pictures area and an off centre rhythm inside which they are often what they must be. 

So what if we do not dangle to a horizontal? 

Klara Kristalova

The dynamics of extra subtle centres

Klara Kristalova: Human moth with mirror

One other manner of coping with the necessity to dangle a whole lot of pictures is to cluster them as islands.

Kara Walker

Clustering eliminates distinction and makes the person items work collectively as a unit. There’s although a definite distinction between Kara Walker’s cluster of pictures and Annette Messager’s ‘My Vows’. 

My Vows (1988 – 99)

‘My Vows’ consists of a number of small framed pictures, however we do not really feel as if this can be a manner of presenting them as a collective exhibition, by hanging them on this dense configuration they develop into a brand new object, successfully a low reduction sculpture. 

Hew Lock: Anonymous

Hew Lock makes use of beads and their response to gravity to offer vertical construction to his wall based mostly drawing. ‘Anonymous’ is a drawing made from bead and twine glue-gunned onto the wall. As Lock states, “It’s easy: You ship anyone drawings and directions, they undertaking the picture onto the wall, hint over in pencil, after which they work the picture in beads and twine over that.” In impact the hanging supplies now develop into the drawing supplies. That is maybe why I’d name the centre dangle at 57 inches an inside designer’s dangle, it’s simply too protected. A chance to hold work can also be a possibility to make new responses to what you’ve already made. 

Two clusters, one the the other way up model of the opposite

Nonetheless, the 57 rule can be utilized extra subtlety. The left cluster units the 57 inch central to the 2 small rectangles collectively on the appropriate facet and the appropriate hand cluster sits the 57 line precisely alongside the highest fringe of the 2 rectangles now on the left facet. This offers an underlying concord to each groupings. 

However what in case you do that?

Lining up every portray’s horizon line

Or this?

Making an island object alongside a diagonal

It is solely by taking part in round with potentialities that one can find out. Dangle only one picture at an indirect angle and the remaining at proper angles and it’ll stand out. What if a picture was hung the other way up? Georg Baselitz has spent over 40 years pondering that query. 

So earlier than setting off to hold your closing present or exhibition out within the metropolis, do do not forget that presentation has infinite potentialities and that the way you method this might deeply form the best way your work is acquired. 

Worldwide Surrealist Exhibition 1938

The Primary Room of the Worldwide Surrealist Exhibition of 1938 was designed by Marcel Duchamp and Wolfgang Paalen. It took the type of a grotto or womb, a darkish area with a ceiling lowered by hanging 1200 scrunched up newspaper stuffed coal baggage from the ceiling and it was partly lit by burning braziers. (Well being and security did not come into the image at the moment)


Arnheim, R., (1969) Artwork and visible notion: A psychology of the inventive eye. London: Univ of California Press.

Arnheim, R. (2009) The Energy of the Centre London: Univ of California Press

Klee, P. and Moholy-Nagy, S., (1953) Pedagogical sketchbook London: Faber & Faber.

Bingham, P. (1993) Image Framing New York: Stackpole Books

Burns, J. T. (1978) Framing Photos New York: Scribner

Frank, V. (1991) An Introduction to Image Framing London: Chartwell Home

 See additionally: 

Extra on framing and hanging

Drawing and set up

Enthusiastic about the salon dangle

Lina Bo Bardis and architectural presentation strategies * A manner of presenting work with out partitions

The body weblog An incredible weblog to get you occupied with the body itself as an thought

Fixings and fittings


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