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Hanging Art in a Cluster Grouping

When hanging art collections, I often find that small or awkwardly shaped walls can be a great opportunity for hanging clustered groupings of small works. Recently, I decided to use the wall beneath a cantilevered stair in this 1830 Creole cottage in Natchez, Mississippi to group a collection of 18th and 19th century Neoclassical drawings. In the past, I tried techniques (or non-techniques) such as laying out the art pieces on the floor to try to arrive at an attractive arrangement, or even simply winging it by hanging first one piece, then another, trying to make a sort of order appear one step at a time. These attempts were not highly successful, shall I say.

For this small gallery wall, I intended to use the impressively scaled English Argand lamp ca. 1825 as the center point of the composition. While frames of artworks could be behind the arms of the lamp, I did not want the subject of the drawings themseloves to be hidden. I used kraft paper and traced around each frame of the pieces I wanted to hang. On each sheet I drew a quick freehand sketch of the image in the artwork, both to help me remember which square of paper represented which piece, and also to evaluate the juxtapositions of subject matter.

Using blue painter's tape which will not damage painted walls and allows re-positioning, I played with the placement of the individual pieces until I was satisfied with the arrangement. Then, I began to hang the works one by one.

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