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.  To share some ideas about what I have discovered about this subject, I have written two posts.  The first is titled: Siting Sculpture, Part One: Overview.
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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Kevin at [email protected].

Other FAE informational posts you may find helpful:
Fine Art Insurance 101Broken sculpture


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