Several years ago I created a web site for an artists’ guild to which I belonged to at the time; on that now defunct site, I created a page on how to hang an exhibition. The image below is a screen shot from that page.


Screen shot of instructions: click to enlarge.

The simple instructions were based on kinesthetic and visual principles:

  • The visual energy of an artwork is the key to placement in an exhibit;
  • Movement around the room is based on the focal length of the art work: this is the distance at which the piece is apprehended; the energy of the piece will force you to move the proper distance to perceive it;
  • Determine how the viewer is going to move naturally through the gallery space: clockwise or counter-clockwise;
  • Work should be arranged so that the movement around the room is a gentle flow: the shifting from one focal length to the next is not abrupt;
  • Keep similar energies together (back in the eighties, I was accused of having a corner for bad artists: no, it was based on energy: unfortunately a good artist was placed in the same spot because of similar energies);
  • The focal length of a piece should not force you against a wall: this would be the case if you hung a strong piece in a narrow hallway;
  • Use focal length to determine where to put a sculpture in a room with paintings: a viewer looking at paintings should not bump into someone looking at a sculpture; worse yet, the focal length of the painting should not lead the viewer to bump into the sculpture;
  • Use the energy of the works to determine spacing between pieces: keep moving the artwork apart until the energies release;
  • The longest focal length is where you are walking into the room; therefore, the strongest pieces – those having the most energy – are opposite the doorway;
  • The height of the artwork is determined by hanging the center of the piece five feet from the floor; if there is a group, arrange the group and have the center of the group be five feet high.