05 Sep 2015

If you’ve just recently purchased an artwork, or want to finally hang one up that’s been gathering dust for years, you’re in luck. Arranging and hanging artwork isn’t an easy a task as it sounds.

If you’ve just recently purchased an artwork, or want to finally hang one up that’s been gathering dust for years, you’re in luck. Arranging and hanging artwork isn’t an easy a task as it sounds. From size and shape to alignment, there are a lot of things you need to consider before finally hanging that piece of art. This article will look at how to arrange, group, and align artworks and hang them up like your home’s a museum.

Symmetrical and asymmetrical arrangements

A symmetrical arrangement is one in which a number of artworks is grouped together, with a middle and mirror image on both sides. It’s a more traditional and formal arrangement of artwork.

An asymmetrical arrangement is the opposite, with artworks imbalanced on both sides, yet arranged in a fun and eye catching manner. The asymmetrical arrangement is more modern and informal.

Level arrangements

When a wall, doorway, or window separates multiple pieces of artwork, level the centre of the artworks rather than the top or bottom of the frames. If hanging art next to a door, level the frames to be parallel to the side of the door. When hanging two artworks between, for example, a clock on the top of the wall and a heater on the bottom, level the tops of the frames with the top of the clock, and align the side of the biggest artwork above the heater.

Horizontal and vertical arrangements

For artworks of the same size and shape, a horizontal arrangement is the best option and helps create the illusion of width. This is when the tops of the frames align with one another from left to right.

A vertical arrangement is when the left and right sides of the frames align with one another from top to bottom, giving the illusion of height. For artwork of different shapes and sizes displayed in two rows, place landscapes or larger pieces above portraits or smaller pieces, align them horizontally from the top, and then vertically from the middle moving outwards.

Gallery arrangements

If you’re looking to hang a gallery wall, with three artworks of different shapes and sizes in an odd arrangement, create a balance between them by placing the biggest piece on the left. This is because the eye usually starts reading from the left.

With an even arrangement, place the biggest piece at eye level in the centre, then work outwards.

Diagonal and offset arrangements

Artworks arranged diagonally are commonly seen besides diagonal staircases, where they are hung along the same angle as the stairs. An offset arrangement is when two matching artworks are arranged diagonally rather than horizontally or vertically parallel with one another, giving a casual look.

Hanging artwork according to wall and furniture size

The wall space in which you choose to hang your artwork should be large enough to have space surrounding the work, and not too cramped. Hang small works of art on narrow walls (e.g. between windows and doors), and larger pieces on big wall spaces where there is enough room for people to step back and admire them.

When hanging artwork on top of a couch or table, the bottom of the frame should be around 10-20cm above it, or about a hand’s width. The frame should also be roughly ⅔ the width of the couch or table, for example a three metre wide couch should have artwork hanging roughly two metres above it.

Apply the 145cm rule

This means hanging the artwork at 145 centimetres on centre, which is the average human eye level. Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Measure 145cm up from the floor and lightly mark the spot with a pencil
  2. From this spot, measure the height of your artwork. Divide this in two to find where the centre of the artwork will be
  3. Pull up the wire on the back of the frame, as if it were hanging on the wall, and measure the distance between the highest point of the wire and the top of the frame
  4. Subtract this amount from the artwork’s half height to find where the nail or hook should be
  5. Lightly mark the spot on the wall where the nail or hook will go above the 145cm mark.

Hanging multiple artworks

The 145cm rule also applies with hanging multiple works of art of different shapes and sizes. The best way to do this is to picture all the pieces as one big work of art. Before you measure the centre of the entire grouping, however, arrange the artworks on the floor first. Alternatively, start with the artwork you intend to place in the middle and hang it at 145cm on centre. Once the first piece is up, you can continue to surround it with the rest of the works.

Use the appropriate tools

To stop your artwork from falling, you need to use the right tools. Plastic nails, hooks, brackets, or picture hangers are great for light pieces, while heavier artworks may require metal wall anchors, brackets, nails, and screws. Only use drywall screws in drywall, and wood screws in wood. Most importantly, use a drill to make the right sized holes in the wall.

Protect the wall

After you’ve measured and centred your artwork, you can finally hang it on the wall. To save the paint from scratches or scuffs, add small bits of adhesive felt, post-it notes, or masking tape to the corners or bottom of the frame. This way, the frame won’t be in direct contact with the wall.

The practice of displaying artwork in your home is an art itself. Be it paintings, drawings, or wall art, these items need to be skilfully arranged and hung so as to look the way they were intended.