Siting Sculpture, Part One: Overview

I have been an art dealer now for over 45 years who has been privileged to live and work in a 4-acre sculpture garden, envisioned by my parents, Donald and Margaret Vogel in 1959.  As most of the artwork in the garden is consigned by artists and is for sale, it changes with some regularity.  As new work arrives decisions must be made as to each sculpture’s siting, presentation, and other important considerations.
Entrance to the Valley House Gallery Sculpture Garden

The garden is modern and informal with winding paths, a large pond, and is normally accessible to the public when the gallery is open.  Exhibitions of sculpture in the gallery often extend out into the garden.  Although for sale, sculptures in the garden are not labeled or priced, and are intentionally installed to look like they were placed permanently.

Sculpture in ground cover or flower beds requires less maintenance than sculpture surrounded by grass that must be mowed and edged regularly.

I am betting that for your residential clients you are rarely asked to help with sculpture placement indoors, and almost never outdoors.  Unless it is already owned, sculpture is not normally thought of until all the two-dimensional works have been placed on the walls of a home or office.

Among other posts, I will be writing a series of articles related to sculpture placement both inside and outside the home and office, covering tips and ideas that might be useful to you when helping your clients place sculpture.  Although some issues are unique to location, many considerations are the same and can be applied accordingly.  Below are a few of the things to consider when placing sculpture.

Accessibility:

After determining a likely location for a sculpture, look for any unacceptable physical barriers or impeded sight-lines that obstruct access to the artwork.

This sculpture is used as a focal point at the end of a long hallway. It is placed outside the home in front of a brick wall and framed by a large picture window at the hallway’s end. Although its placement does not allow the work to be viewed from any other angle but the front, it is given an exceptionally prominent spot where it can be viewed by anyone moving about the first floor of the home.

Siting:

This category encompasses the sculptures physical placement in a space and how it relates to everything around it.

Lighting:

This category involves every aspect of how the sculpture is either mechanically and/or naturally lit, 24/7.

Surroundings:

After determining a likely location for a sculpture, this category involves considering everything around the sculpture, both physical and visual, and how it might affect all the other categories now and in the future.

This sculpture is in the front privacy courtyard and is protected from view by a privacy wall and entrance gate. It can not only be seen by every visitor as they come and go, but also from the windows of the living room and the master bath bathtub window seen at the far back.  It very nicely serves as a foil to the linear aspects of the rest of the entrance.

Security:

After determining a probable location for a sculpture, what is the perceived risk it will be stolen, vandalized, or toppled over by some force of nature?

Although I am a big fan of people sharing their art by placing it in their front yards where everyone passing by can see it, today, this work is an open invitation for people to climb inside to mimic Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” for an Instagram posting. There are lighting, maintenance, and liability issues with this installation I will explore in another post.

Safety:

After determining a probable location for a sculpture, is there anything about its location or stability that could cause harm to someone?

Although these plastic ice cubes floating in a swimming pool is a wonderful novel idea for a wild party, as a long term installation, it is a nightmare.

Maintenance:

After determining a probable location for a sculpture, beyond what would normally be needed to maintain the sculpture in general, it is important to determine if there are any additional maintenance issues created by siting the work in that location.

Disaster:

For any location a sculpture is sited, it is wise to take a moment and think about the area and what types of geophysical or weather related worse-case scenarios might affect the sculpture.  If there is a potential problem, planning ahead for an event can minimize possible damage if one is forewarned.

Environmental:

For any location a sculpture is sited, are there any environmental issues such as direct sunlight, excessive moisture, extreme variations in temperature, or acid rain that needs to be considered?

In this series of articles, each of the above topics will be addressed regarding the proper placement of sculpture in both indoor and outdoor settings.  I hope that forwarding my experiences with all types of sculpture installation will help you to more easily handle the issues faced when a design client wants to add sculpture to their art collection.

I am always available to discuss questions that may arise with sculpture placement.  Just send an email with images attached of the sculpture and where you would like to place the work along with your phone number and I will get back to you as soon as I can.  I may not always have a solution, but I bet I will be able to help you ask good questions.

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For more information about Artwork Installation, visit this other blog post:

facade of a modern house with a round sculpture sited in the front yardSiting Sculpture: Part Two, A Case Study

 

Hanging and Framing FAQ’s

 

 

Hanging and  Framing FAQs

 

 

To see all available FAE Design Blog Posts,  jump to the Design Blog Table of Contents.

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

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For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

Reflection on the Problem of Reflections

Back when our gallery had a frame shop, the only option to reduce reflection on artworks that needed glazing was to ask for Non-Glare glass.  Although this was a poor solution, it was the only solution at the time.  Non-Glare glass had one side sandblasted so any reflected light would be dispersed, making the reflection look like a blob of light on the surface of the glass rather than returning a harsh reflection.  We refused to use this glass because to actually see the artwork properly.  You had to place the glass directly on the artwork, otherwise it would appear like you were looking at it through fog, and it is never a good idea to have glass sitting directly on an artwork in a frame assembly. 1.

Today, the best way to handle the problem of reflection is to use a glazing material onto which an AR (anti-reflective) coating has been applied.  This is a similar coating that is now used on eye glass lenses that allows you to actually see a person’s eyes and it all but eliminates glare from oncoming car headlights at night.

The AR coating is designed to disrupt the energy contained in light waves causing them to flow out of sync.  Under most conditions, AR glass helps reduce reflections to the point that they are not much of a problem, but it does not eliminate all reflection issues.  From my personal experience, the coating’s effectiveness is related to how well lit the artwork is and the direction of the light source.

Diagram of rooms described below. Primary reflection problem was solved by changing glazing material to AR coated glass, turning on the living room lights, and the lamp beside the artwork.

This became evident to me when a client said she had a problem with reflection on an artwork in her living room.  I suggested using AR coated glass thinking that that would most likely solve her reflection problem.  I had the glass switched out and she called to let me know that the glass was still acting like a mirror.  When I arrived to see what the problem might be, I discovered that, to my surprise, the artwork’s AR coated glass presented the exact same problem with reflection that the uncoated glass did.  I noticed the room where the artwork was hanging and the dining room, across from the artwork, were both kept dark.  At the opposite end of the dining room was a large picture window that was allowing a lot of light into the dining room.  There was a door between the kitchen and the dining room she frequently used and as she walked through the two dark rooms, all she saw when she looked at the artwork was the reflection of the picture window at the far end of the dining room.  I suggested that we turn on a lamp next to the artwork and discovered that the reflection issue was greatly reduced.

The takeaway of this story is that if an artwork has AR glazing and is well lit compared to its surrounding area, most reflection sources will be minimized and may not be noticed at all, especially if a viewer is focused on the artwork itself and not on the reflection source.  In fact, I have often looked at artworks that have AR glazing and wondered why they weren’t glazed, only to discover on close examination that they were.  If an artwork is underlit compared to its surrounding area and there is a lot of reflection, don’t be disappointed, it is just how the AR coating works.  The solution is to either put more light on the artwork or reduce the amount of light in the surrounding area compared to what is already on the artwork.

Light source and highly reflective areas will be visible in the glazing if the artwork itself is not properly lighted.

Overhead lighting also helps to reduce reflections compared to lighting with lamps that are at the same height as the viewer.  If you are standing beside an AR glazed artwork and there is a lamp on the opposite side of the artwork at the same angle and distance away from the artwork you are, you will see the lamp reflected in its glazing.  With overhead lighting, the viewer would have to be looking up from the floor to see the reflection of the light above.  AR glazing does have its limitations, but considering its old alternative, Non-Glare, it is a panacea.

Reflection is all about the light sources surrounding a glazed artwork and their relation to the viewer. The best lighting method for glazed works on paper is from above unless an artwork is hung high on a wall.

As I mentioned in our last blogpost, When to use UV control glazing, the folks at Tru Vue have a good helpdesk and their technical department can answer most any glazing related framing or installation question.  Their help desk number is 708-854-2700 and their email is fineart@tru-vue.co.

  1.   I know of no circumstance where it is good for a glazing material to be in contact with an artwork on paper.  If there is no other framing choice than to have the glazing material in contact with the artwork, it is better to use Plexiglas rather than glass.  Quick changes in temperature and humidity can cause glass to fog over, even on the inside of a frame assembly.  If this happens with a work on paper, especially if the glass is in contact with the artwork, the paper can absorb the moisture creating a perfect environment for mold to grow, the paper to be stained, pigments to react adversely, or wrinkling; none of which are going to be good for the artwork.

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For more information about Framing Artwork, visit these other blog posts:

image of a wall of frame samplesThe Importance of a Proper Frame

 

an image of a graphic showing the entire spectrum of viable and non-visible lightWhen to Use UV Control Glazing

 

To see all available FAE Design Blog Posts,  jump to the Design Blog Table of Contents.

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

Sign up with FAE to receive our newsletter, and never miss a new blog post or update! 

Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.