- On October 12, 2015
Signed, Dry and Ready to Hang
Is Your Artwork Gallery Ready?
Though this phrase was originally aimed at painters, the idea holds true across all art forms. It may seem like a small consideration, but the way your work arrives to a gallery is often a key consideration in whether they will choose to work with you again in the future.
The care you show your work and the consideration for how it will be installed will be seen as representative of your professionalism and character.
If your work is still in process, keep it in the studio. This means wet canvases, partially rendered data maps, or any incomplete works are a no-go unless the gallery is specifically requesting works-in-progress.
Serious consideration must be given to how the work will be displayed:
- If the piece is two-dimensional and intended for wall hanging, how will it be hung?
- By brackets, a wire, a French cleat? If so, make sure your work has the wire or the cleat.
- Does this work need a frame, or can it be hung in a more raw form?
- Does this sculpture need a pedestal? If so, have you insured the gallery has one on hand at the correct height?
Every medium and artwork will need different solutions and presentation methods.
Whatever the method, make the decisions on your end and provide the necessary elements for proper installation. Do not leave this for the gallery to problem solve (and potentially make the wrong decision or damage your art work).
Rare exceptions to this rule exist:
The Ghanaian artist El Anatsui leaves the display composition completely in the hands of the museum or gallery’s staff. He believes this creates an additional layer of collaboration in his work and encourages a release of control.
It is important to note that he has still provides careful instructions on the method of hanging and has accounted for the structure and installation of this hanging, he just hasn’t dictated the composition of the installation. This strategy succeeds because it is intentional, not a lack of planning or follow-through.
On the opposite side of this coin you have artists like Christo and (the late) Jean-Claude, who plan every aspect of their installations in such meticulous detail that their contract requires architectural blueprints of any space they are showing within.
While neither extreme might be your goal, be sure to land somewhere in the middle. Spend a few minutes before the work is even begun considering how it will be exhibited.
Provide a clear drawing if needed and remember: this is actually all for you- not the gallery. Your work should be shown according to your vision, and your success as an artist is tied to your ability to communicate this vision to your audience.
How sad if the many, many hours you poured into a work of art were ruined by you forgetting to label which end goes “up”.
Stay tuned for future posts where we will discuss some of the technical requirements of documenting your work and giving your gallery the tools they need to communicate your intention to the viewer.