"In art, as in love, instinct is enough." Anatole France (born Jacque Anatole Thibault), (1844-1924), French author, "Le Jardin d'Epicure" (1859)
I get a lot of questions about art, primarily such as, "Can you offer some guidelines for buying art and using art at home?" "Is it supposed to match something, or can you just buy what you like?" and "Should we go to a gallery or can we buy art in retail stores?"
Ah, art - appreciation of it is so very subjective. As many folks as there are on the planet, that's how many opinions you will get about what is art, what is good art, what does good mean and how to live with art.
And, as you know, there are also many forms of visual art - one-, two- and three-dimensional - as well as thousands of mediums, including art glass, sculpture, photography and painting. It's no wonder that people get so confused when trying to find art pieces for their homes.
I'm one of those people who believe there should be some relativity to the art in your home, and other things in your home. However, having said that, I also believe that if you have a certain style in your home, your choices of art will reflect that.
But then again, there is the oil painting from your Aunt Lil, the prized finger painting from your child and your attempt at pottery. It's all art and it all needs to be displayed. What happens to that?
Let's look at how some folks display their art.
First, let's look at your personal art: Aunt Lil's oil painting, your collection of butterfly images and the flat bowl you made at a pottery party. Because these are all personal to you, the ideal place to show them off is in your personal space.
I knew a lady who did, in fact, collect butterfly prints and images and her husband collected something very different, something like fishing flies in shadow boxes . They agreed these were not collectibles they wanted to display in their living room or other public spaces; so they decided each would have their own wall in their bedroom and could address the wall any way they wanted. They each hung their "personal art" on their wall. This worked for them. And while it may not work exactly like this at your house, you get the idea. Find your own little space. If you're lucky enough to have your own dressing room or office, use that to your advantage.
To answer the question "Should art match something or can you just buy something you like?" yes and yes. Remember style. If you have a contemporary, sleek space, you will probably gravitate to modern or contemporary art pieces. If you have a country home, serene landscapes or still life paintings may be your thing.
True art collectors often provide a very white or monochromatic background to show off their art. This usually includes white upholstery or at least fabrics with no patterns and, oftentimes, white walls. The space then takes on a gallery look and feel. Having this clean palette allows the owners to collect a wide variety of wall art and none of it clashes .
If collecting art is not your thing and you are just looking for something to dress up your walls, most retail outlets offer a lot of options. If, on the other hand you appreciate original art, our town has a wealth of artists . The Arts District is full of galleries for you to peruse and there are many art fairs and shows showcasing local art.
In art, as with any other aspect of decoration and design, the choices are many. And always remember, there are no decorating (or art) police. The key is to make your home your own by having it be a reflection of you.
Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and past president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.