September 21, 2023


Art For Everyone

Hanging work for an exhibition

19 min read

The Shadow Hole

Yearly college students and workers debate over the hanging of labor. So, earlier than we hit exhibition season some issues to contemplate.

Hanging drawings and work is concerning the building of a really shallow house for skinny objects to be skilled inside. Central to an understanding of this house, is the truth that bodily and perceptually all our earth certain experiential areas are ‘anisotropic’. I.e. these areas exhibit properties with totally different values when measured in several instructions. For these of us that inhabit a large bodily object such because the planet Earth, which means that the experiences we’ve of upwardness are very totally different to the experiences we’ve of downwardness, primarily due to the results of gravity. Most exhibition areas will rely upon partitions, skinny objects, designed to have the ability to fight the results of gravity and it’s subsequently the wall itself that can be of preliminary concern. *

If you’re ever involved with operating an expert gallery house you’ll at one time or one other in all probability have an argument concerning the want for a ‘shadow hole’ and the shadow hole is all about how we take into consideration visible weight.  So what is that this about? 

Bauhaus instructing was primarily based on a return to elementary rules of visible language. Artists akin to Paul Klee made diagrams to make clear what was taking place after which later theorists akin to Rudolf Arnheim, tried to take these concepts and refine them additional. 

Paul Klee

As you’ll be able to see from Klee’s drawing above, all our experiences are to begin with experiences which have to answer a pressure that drags all the pieces in direction of the centre of the Earth. (Plummet and stability). Nonetheless, as Klee factors on the market are additionally areas of freer motion and dynamism. Rudolf Arnheim wrote a number of books attempting to elucidate intimately how this works, however earlier than we have a look at what he needed to say, maybe we have to re-look at our wall. 

Wall with shadow hole

A wall with no visible break between itself and the ground is phenomenologically extra ‘actual’ than with out. It exerts its ‘presence’ and it has ‘weight’. For those who add a skirting board, this brings to the scenario as Klee places it, ‘a freer motion and dynamism’. The skirting board may be considered the cuff on the finish of your shirt sleeve, it visually finishes off a size of fabric, it zips across the edge and types a visible cease to a vertical fall. Nonetheless in an effort to do that it contains an additional bodily factor and in doing so, provides visible litter. 

Wall with and with out skirting.

If you’re a sculptor, the wall assembly the ground and not using a hole is ok, particularly in case your work is concerning the actuality of the supplies used and their relation to gravity. In sculptural phrases, the skirting board seems naff as a result of it’s attempting to cover the fact of the scenario. Nonetheless in an ornamental inside, the place the partitions are sometimes considered an ornamental fantasy, the skirting and because it extends itself, the dado, might be important. The modernist ideally suited begins with a horror of ornament, (locations the place germs can conceal), and it espouses a reality to materials aesthetic, a type of ‘what you see is what you get’ aesthetic sensibility. Nonetheless, the ‘White Dice’ of an exhibition house, we had been all taught by Brian O’Doherty will not be impartial, so even earlier than we get to hold something on these partitions, we enter a contested house, one which the shadow hole debate highlights as an oscillating bodily and non secular drama. With out it a wall exerts its full visible weight, with it the wall is ‘floated’ right into a extra aesthetic or contemplative house. Some artists regard their work as speaking initially through a sure ‘objectness’ or a bodily presence, some regard their work extra as a window inside which they want an viewers to ponder an thought. Selection of wall and the place an object goes on that wall, is subsequently important to their aesthetic sensibility. 

The skirting board ‘framing’ the wall.

If you’re to treat the wall as each a bodily actuality and in addition as a particular house inside which different ‘aesthetic’ guidelines apply, the shadow can hole enable this. On the one hand it introduces no new bodily factor into the scenario, besides ‘a niche’. This hole visually separates the wall from the ground and the one different time we see this occur is when weight is supported by different issues. 

A big object with shadow gaps between the perimeters of a pallet’s picket helps

Usually if we eliminated the picket blocks that maintain up the field it’ll drop down, but when we do and it does not drop, we’ve a scenario whereby one thing invisible is holding it up and that is essential because it opens a query within the thoughts, maybe a small one, however one which questions gravity and weight and our perceptual consciousness. “May it’s”, our mind asks of the shadow hole, “that this wall is floating?” A query that’s each a bodily one and a metaphysical one, which is why generally the shadow hole can work for each varieties of work. It’s a very contested factor and nobody has ever had a definitive answer. 

You could have in all probability already labored out that various kinds of photos or work, should be constructed on various kinds of floor and which you can assert or undermine the physicality of the work you might be displaying, by to begin with giving consideration to the wall in opposition to which the work will sit. However what kind of consideration? Floor texture, lighting, dimensions, color, proportion or edge high quality, all of this stuff will visually form our expertise. For Rudolf Arnheim all the pieces seen is a part of a visible subject of forces and these forces are attractors that pressure us to look in sure methods. Due to this fact all of the formal parts that underpin visible pondering may be bundled collectively as the assorted parts that make up fields of visible pressure dynamics. 

Rudolf Arnheim believed that notion and thought act reciprocally. If he was our wall he would in all probability direct our consideration to the diagram under of the visible forces at play.

If we’re confronted with only a sq. wall with nothing hooked up to it, Arnheim would to begin with visualise the forces working as concentric circles emanating out from the centre. Nonetheless he would level out that on the identical time we’ve an consciousness of verticality, therefore a sequence of vertical strains of pressure function in relation to the vertical edges of the wall and horizontal ones in relation to prime and backside. Thus vitality each radiates from a centre and strikes horizontally and vertically. New centres start to radiate out when new moments of consciousness come into focus. For example the corners of the wall are dynamic spots as a result of a robust horizontal meets a robust vertical. These are the wall’s radiating forces and are what we disturb after we start hanging work. We in impact puncture the dynamics by inflicting adjustments in visible weight as we herald work to place onto the wall.

As quickly as you started placing something onto the wall, Arnheim would in all probability direct your consideration to the gestalt idea of visible stability. 

Gestalt idea of visible stability

As you’ll be able to see from this, Arnheim if hanging photos on the wall, would have a look at stability in relation to an invisible fulcrum. If utilized to a wall and its hold, you might need a scenario such because the one under. The bigger tall rectangle is nearer to the centre as a result of it has extra visible weight and subsequently it may be balanced by a smaller sq. additional off centre. 

The invisible fulcrum is central to the width of the wall

Nonetheless if the smaller sq. begins to exhibit an additional visible high quality, akin to a color, this adjustments its visible weight. As a way to stability this, the bigger rectangle has to maneuver to the correct.

A much less color saturated bigger rectangle balancing a extremely color saturated smaller sq.

Nonetheless this doesn’t consider our intuitive consciousness of gravity or the complete vector impact in relation to the fields of engaging pressure within the diagram additional above. 

Taking a look at our intuitive consciousness of gravity first; the spacing of a body round a picture typically takes that under consideration. In “Framing Photos” by J.T. Burns, it states {that a} margin round an image must be 7.5 cms on the prime and sides and eight.8 cms on the base. The rationale for not having the margin equal on all 4 sides is defined like so: “The additional width on the backside creates an optical stability with out which the bottom seems to be narrower than it truly is.” (p.40) In ‘An Introduction to Image Framing’ by Vivien Frank, the advised dimensions of the perimeters and prime are given as 8 cms, and the underside 9 cms. (p. 30) and Peter Bingham’s “Image Framing” states, ‘if a mat is reduce with all its borders equal in width, the underside border will seem narrower than the highest. That is an optical phantasm, however one which must be compensated for.’ (p.34) Non of those books on framing attempt to clarify how or why this ‘optical phantasm’ exists. 

As a result of all the pieces on the planet has a deep relation to gravity, explicit types have come about. As a way to stand up in opposition to gravity, reasonably than crawl alongside the bottom, human beings, like so many transferring animals have advanced with bi-lateral symmetry. If you wish to stand erect, it is advisable to align your self to the plumb-line of gravity. Think about a wall trying to maintain standing if it was constructed off vertical. If a wall is constructed upright or on flat floor, the centre of gravity (blue dot) is straight above the centre level of the wall’s foundations (yellow dot), so the wall is secure. But when a wall is constructed on sloping floor, the centre of gravity is not above the centre of the bottom. Now gravity (pink arrow) creates a second (inexperienced arrow) that ideas the wall over. The upper the wall, the larger the mass above the centre of gravity, the larger the turning pressure and the extra likelihood the wall will collapse. Bilateral symmetry permits the wall and ourselves to face up tall with out having to have a large base. 

We all know this proper all the way down to our bones, as a result of because of this we’re the form we’re and all that effort to stand up, has additionally resulted to our foremost sense organs being situated as far up as they might be. 

A six foot excessive human in relation to a 12 foot excessive wall

Nonetheless, due to the ability of gravity, all of the bone engineering evolution that has been undertaken over tens of millions of years has solely allowed us to boost our sense organs up a couple of toes. Excellent weight loss program has seen the typical top enhance not too long ago, besides the typical male top within the UK is just 5ft 9in and the typical feminine top is now 5ft 3in. Due to this fact the determine within the diagram above is barely too tall even for a male, however the large problem does not change. Even when we had been trying on the world’s tallest man, Sultan Kösen, who’s 8 ft 2.82 in tall, his eyes can’t be increased above the bottom than 8 toes. Our foremost visible consciousness of gravity influenced indications is in that space under the eyes, and as we glance up, and up and up, we are going to after all finally have the ability to see so far as the solar or the celebs, an virtually compared, infinite distance. We glance down and there are limits, and inside these limits we’re additionally used to in search of issues that may impact us. Due to gravity, a big a part of the energetic world lies near the bottom and right here we’d discover snakes.

Psychologically this has formed the way in which we predict. The quantity of blue sky we will see may be associated to our moods. We will really feel oppressed or fenced in on darkish days with low cloud cowl. It’s conversely exhilarating to climb to the highest of a hill and look down upon the world. After we really feel down or depressed we will are inclined to stroll with our heads down, however when excited and comfortable we hold our heads up. 

All of this relates again to the wall that we’re about to hold work on and why framers like to depart barely more room on the backside of the picture. I bear in mind going to Glasgow College of Artwork for one in every of their diploma reveals again when the Macintosh Constructing hadn’t burnt down. One of many first issues I observed was that the partitions that had been erected for the present had been 12 toes excessive. I had solely seen this as soon as earlier than for a level present and this was at Chelsea again within the late 70s. Two vertical 8 by 4 ft boards, had been topped by a horizontal one. Each Chelsea and Glasgow prided themselves on the professionalism of their presentation and the additional top modified all the pieces when it got here to the precise expertise of the work.  

Rising the peak of the wall

I perceive that it’s not at all times practical or inexpensive to extend wall top, however if you happen to can embrace wall top in along with your presentation pondering, akin to stipulating that it is advisable to present on a wall of no less than x toes excessive, be sure to achieve this. 

The additional top provides the exhibition house the potential to grow to be psychologically spiritually uplifting, at 8ft it’s nonetheless firmly rooted into our human house, 
Sultan Kösen would as an example discover it degree together with his eyes. At 12 toes the partitions are tall sufficient to visually and subsequently mentally, launch us from gravity’s attraction. I.e. you probably have any management over the scenario, make sure that the partitions you present on are of a good top. On a smaller scale, if you’re framing a picture, take into consideration lifting it visually by giving more room under the picture than above. 

The brand new place of the 2 rectangles makes us extra conscious of the decrease a part of the wall, which can or is probably not acceptable to the work; which now brings us again to these ‘fields of engaging pressure’. 

Ian Davenport

Beginning on the backside of the wall, work akin to Ian Davenport’s is so gravity acutely aware that the wall in opposition to which it may be proven can not have shadow gaps. The verticality of the paint stripes actually runs downwards, as a result of that’s the method the paint runs. The visible dynamics of the work are compressed right into a rectangle with a damaged backside edge. The portray, in impact is handled as you’d a sculpture. 

John McCracken

I first noticed John McCracken’s work within the ‘Artwork of the Actual’ exhibition on the Tate Gallery within the late Sixties. His work had been strong blocks of color and he merely lent them in opposition to the wall. Discover within the picture above the gallery has given the wall in opposition to which the work rests a shadow hole. This enables the work two contradictory readings. It has reasserted its ‘objectness’ by turning into like a plank lent in opposition to a wall, however this isn’t simply any wall, it is a gallery wall, extra weightless than a traditional one, topic to aesthetic regard, thus elevating the blue into the realm of color subject portray and different ‘painterly’ issues. McCracken put it like this, “I see the plank as current between two worlds, the ground representing the bodily world of standing objects, bushes, automobiles, buildings, [and] human our bodies, … and the wall representing the world of the creativeness, illusionist portray house, [and] human psychological house.”

It is extremely helpful to match McCracken’s use of the wall/flooring angle with Chris Ofili’s. Ofili typically used to relaxation his photos on onerous dried elephant dung that had a varnish utilized over it. This was after all symbolically essential, however by elevating the work from the ground on this method the work got a niche or house between themselves and the ground, subsequently though the dung provides the work related earthy weight, they declare affinity to the wall, as McCracken put it, to “the world of the creativeness, illusionist portray house, the human psychological house.” 

Nonetheless Ofili’s work is figurative, ‘No Lady, No Cry’ is a portrait of an actual mom, and though the artist has solely painted the highest half of her physique, the remainder of her can within the thoughts be seen as extending down into the bottom beneath the 2 balls of elephant dung; balls that declare the bottom for a uniquely African animal, a floor from which traditionally this girl may make a declare as coming from. 

The compositional impact of incomplete figures inside a picture, complicates the lever system that’s utilized by the gestalt idea of visible stability. As Arnheim places it, ‘the balancing of weights inside a portray doesn’t rely merely on the purely quantitative extent of the areas….however reasonably on the burden and placement of the centres equipped by the visible objects….If, nonetheless, the given elements of an object level compellingly towards a centre exterior the body, that centre, though not seen, will take part with its weight and placement within the play of compositional forces.’ (Arnheim, 2009, P.62) Arnheim was writing about composition inside a portray, however precisely the identical factor applies to the balancing of photos when setting up the composition of a wall of work.

Maybe earlier than we start to maneuver our portray onto the wall, we must always return to the thought of the peak of human beings. The three work we’ve simply checked out all had a transparent relationship with the ground in addition to the wall. They made us conscious of our toes in addition to our heads. After we have a look at a free floating picture, whether or not its centre is above or under our centre of imaginative and prescient, goes to be an essential a part of the expertise. So, going again to the peak statistics, the common male 5ft 9in and common feminine 5ft 3in, common top is subsequently 5ft 6in and common eye degree is roughly 3 inches under that at 5ft 3in. Which implies that something above 5ft 3 inches requires an individual of common top to be trying upwards. This, it appears to me causes an instantaneous downside. We’re not all of common top and if my private expertise is said to my top, an expertise designed for somebody not my top can be fallacious for me. 

Athena Cooper reveals work in ‘Can You See Us Vancouver?’ 

The hanging top was determined upon by the featured artists, who had been all wheelchair customers 

The very fact is at Leeds Arts College the vast majority of individuals trying on the partitions can be feminine, so ought to the peak for eye degree be 5 toes? Or is eye degree the fallacious method to consider a selected top? For those who go browsing you will see that the golden rule for hanging an image is to have the centre of the picture at 57 inches. The web site I checked out goes on to say, “this displays the usual eye-height of the typical particular person, and is used as an ordinary in most artwork galleries and museums.” Which is an fascinating declare because it suggests common top is just 60 inches or 5 toes tall. For a wide range of causes 57 inches is commonly the museum customary and a measuring stick reduce to 57 inches was at one time at all times out there to be used within the studio at any time when we had been hanging work and any deviation from that as a centre needed to be rigorously argued for. 

Centre hold at 57 inches on an 8 toes excessive wall

By utilizing the 57 inch rule and centring all the pieces we get what I name an inside designer’s hold. It seems good and does not make something stand out, i.e. all of the work ‘matches in’. That is typically the hold of consensus as a result of it type of is okay. 

Lets evaluate it to a horizontal rule, whereby we hold alongside a line. 

The invisible shelf

The invisible washing line

Setting photos in opposition to an invisible line suggests some type of invisible resistance and subsequently means that you can give extra weight to the pictures. 

Laercio Redondo   

You can after all as an alternative of an invisible shelf, put an actual skinny shelf alongside the gallery wall and lean the work in opposition to it, simply as how Laercio Redondo  has achieved above. After I used to run the Workshop Press Gallery, for his exhibition Benedict Phillips erected one steady slender shelf of the same design to Redondo’s, that went proper across the 4 gallery partitions. Guests had been allowed to then curate their very own partitions by merely carrying the work from one wall to a different, sliding works to 1 facet and inserting new work within the gaps. This works for work or photos on boards, however does not work so properly for works on canvas.

Amy Sillman

Or within the case of Amy Sillman she has made actual the invisible washing line. This may work for un-stretched canvas or works on paper, however once more, not so good for works on stretched canvas. 

Each these approaches work properly if you wish to give extra bodily presence to the work. Conversely when Jill Mulleady was being proven on the Arsenale in a current Venice Biennale her canvases had been set into the wall and made flush with their surrounding floor. 

Jill Mulleady

By sinking the pictures into the wall Mulleady is ready to get away from the ‘objectness’ of the work and in doing so seeks to achieve a story unity in the same solution to how a sequence of wordless graphic novel photos may work collectively. I wasn’t satisfied although and if she needed to emulate graphic novels, maybe she may have had the work printed and pasted up. This was for me all about technicians proving that they may make a terrific end and that then individuals would spend a lot of time trying intently to see if they may spot the way it was achieved. I.e. I remembered the type of show reasonably than the character of the work. 

Color and its saturation

As quickly as we start so as to add different parts, visible weight and related dynamics change. 

Goya and El Greco: St Peter

A to not scale comparability of Goya and El Greco. Each artists require an consciousness of gravity for us to know their photos. Goya to help the grounding of St Peter because the rock on which the church is constructed; El Greco to help an consciousness of St Peter’s non secular arising. By inserting the 2 on the invisible shelf, Goya will get the required weight and El Greco rises appropriately. You can maybe alter the spacing however not by a lot. Arnheim’s technique of utilizing an invisible central fulcrum means we aren’t tempted to even the gaps out, this creates a way more dynamic composition, permitting each photos house and an off centre rhythm inside which they are often what they should be. 

So what if we do not hold to a horizontal? 

Klara Kristalova

The dynamics of extra subtle centres

Klara Kristalova: Human moth with mirror

One other method of coping with the necessity to hold a number of photos is to cluster them as islands.

Kara Walker

Clustering eliminates distinction and makes the person items work collectively as a unit. There’s although a definite distinction between Kara Walker’s cluster of photos and Annette Messager’s ‘My Vows’. 

My Vows (1988 – 99)

‘My Vows’ consists of a lot of small framed pictures, however we do not really feel as if it is a method of presenting them as a collective exhibition, by hanging them on this dense configuration they grow to be a brand new object, successfully a low reduction sculpture. 

Hew Lock: Anonymous

Hew Lock makes use of beads and their response to gravity to offer vertical construction to his wall primarily based drawing. ‘Anonymous’ is a drawing fabricated from bead and twine glue-gunned onto the wall. As Lock states, “It’s easy: You ship someone drawings and directions, they mission the picture onto the wall, hint over in pencil, after which they work the picture in beads and twine over that.” In impact the hanging supplies now grow to be the drawing supplies. That is maybe why I’d name the centre hold at 57 inches an inside designer’s hold, it’s simply too protected. A possibility to hold work can be a chance to make new responses to what you’ve gotten already made. 

Two clusters, one the the other way up model of the opposite

Nonetheless, the 57 rule can be utilized extra subtlety. The left cluster units the 57 inch central to the 2 small rectangles collectively on the correct facet and the correct hand cluster sits the 57 line precisely alongside the highest fringe of the 2 rectangles now on the left facet. This provides an underlying concord to each groupings. 

However what if you happen to do that?

Lining up every portray’s horizon line

Or this?

Making an island object alongside a diagonal

It is solely by enjoying round with prospects that you will see out. Hold only one picture at an indirect angle and the remainder at proper angles and it’ll stand out. What if a picture was hung the other way up? Georg Baselitz has spent over 40 years pondering that query. 

So earlier than setting off to hold your closing present or exhibition out within the metropolis, do do not forget that presentation has infinite prospects and that the way you strategy this might deeply form the way in which your work is acquired. 

Worldwide Surrealist Exhibition 1938

The Most important Room of the Worldwide Surrealist Exhibition of 1938 was designed by Marcel Duchamp and Wolfgang Paalen. It took the type of a grotto or womb, a darkish house with a ceiling lowered by hanging 1200 scrunched up newspaper crammed coal luggage from the ceiling and it was partly lit by burning braziers. (Well being and security did not come into the image at the moment)


Arnheim, R., (1969) Artwork and visible notion: A psychology of the artistic eye. London: Univ of California Press.

Arnheim, R. (2009) The Energy of the Centre London: Univ of California Press

Klee, P. and Moholy-Nagy, S., (1953) Pedagogical sketchbook London: Faber & Faber.

Bingham, P. (1993) Image Framing New York: Stackpole Books

Burns, J. T. (1978) Framing Photos New York: Scribner

Frank, V. (1991) An Introduction to Image Framing London: Chartwell Home

 See additionally: 

Extra on framing and hanging

Drawing and set up

Fascinated with the salon hold

Lina Bo Bardis and architectural presentation strategies * A method of presenting work with out partitions

The frame blog An excellent weblog to get you excited about the body itself as an thought

Fixings and fittings

Copyright © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.