How to Place Fine Art Paintings and Modern Sculpture in your Home

I know that placing modern fine art in your home can sometimes be a bit challenging especially for those of you who are new to buying fine art. However, I have found that after you learn a few dos and don’ts it gets a lot easier and even becomes fun! Let me start by talking a bit about how people buy modern fine art.

How People Buy Modern Fine Art Sculpture and Paintings

For paintings, the most important aspects of placement are finding wall space that accommodates the size of the painting, where the painting can be properly viewed from multiple spots, and where the painting will effectively compliment other modern fine art or furniture in the room. For large paintings the obvious and sometimes best places are above the fireplace or the sofa, but sometimes hanging paintings instead by a side chair or at the end of a long hall can also be very pleasing. What you want to think about most is how that painting makes you feel and in what room do you want to feel like that? And also where do you spend most of your time in that room and is that place the best place to view your painting?

Placing Modern Fine Art Sculpture

With the three-dimensional nature of modern sculpture, finding the proper space to display it may require a bit more thought. It really should be placed where it can be viewed from multiple sides to maximize its visual impact. At the same time, you should also take into consideration how the room layout flows, current furniture placement, and where people spend their time when they are in the room. For example, if it’s a dining room with doors on either end with a dining room table in the middle, the best place for a modern sculpture is the middle of the table where it can be enjoyed from either doorway and when sitting at the table. However, if this is not possible or aesthetically pleasing, it might make more sense to place it on a pedestal in a far corner so it can be viewed from the table and can be a far focal when entering from one door. 

Placing Modern Fine Art Sculpture in a Living Room

For more complicated setups such as in a living room, you may want to consider what kind of focal point you want the modern sculpture to be. For instance, do you want it to be an accent piece in the background in which case it makes sense to place the contemporary sculpture on an uncluttered bookcase with recessed lighting or on a pedestal behind a sofa or chair. However, if you would like the contemporary sculpture to be a focal point you may consider placing it on a large coffee table. In this case, you may need to consider rearranging the furniture to maximize viewing options so that when you enter the room it’s one of the first things that you see. 

Arranging Small Modern Fine Art Sculpture

In the case of smaller modern sculpture, I recommend treating them like precious accent pieces. For example, if you would like to place one on a side table I would make sure that it gets plenty of space on the table so it is noticed but maybe balance it out with a complimentary lamp of stack of books. If you prefer to place your small modern sculptures on a shelf, again, make sure it has plenty of space and is highlighted by your lighting system. If you have several like small sculptures, you could also group them on a pedestal, just make sure that they are at eye level. 

Balancing the Colors of your Modern Sculpture with your Home

In particular, one must take into account the balance of color within the living room, bedroom, or office when placing a fine art painting or modern ceramic sculpture. For example, if the modern sculpture has a bright color in it such as orange, it should be placed near enough to other swatches of orange in the room but far enough away as not to overwhelm.

 For great visual examples, I recommend that you visit two of my pinterest board.

Best Places to Put Modern Fine Art Sculpture

The first thing that you need to think about when deciding to what to put your modern ceramic sculpture on is the sculpture’s size. The second is the material of the sculpture and how material of the pedestal or table it sits on is complementary.

Wide Short Modern Fine Art Sculptures

If it’s a wide short piece, you have a couple of options. You can place it on a tall wide pedestal, high on an eye level shelf, or on a wide coffee table. The most important thing for large wide modern sculpture is that there is enough extra room on the surface of the table or pedestal that it doesn’t look cluttered or stifled, but instead the negative space gives enough room that the sculpture makes its intended statement. 

Tall Narrow Modern Fine Art Sculptures

For tall narrow modern sculpture, I highly recommend a pedestal or possibly placing it on a fireplace mantel if the mantel is wide enough. Tall narrow modern sculpture can also be really great at adding height to a room. For instance, if the living room, bedroom, or office that you would like to accentuate has an 8’ ceiling, strategically placed contemporary sculptures can redirect focus making the room feel roomier. However, for these situations it’s important that the table or pedestal that you place the modern sculptures on is low enough that the sculpture doesn’t end up appearing cramped. On the other hand, for rooms with tall ceilings, it’s important to make sure that a tall narrow modern sculpture doesn’t become overwhelmed by the height of a room. If the modern sculpture is very tall, then obviously that may not be an issue, but if it is possibly not quite tall enough, you may consider purchasing a tall pedestal that compliments the sculpture. The sculpture and the pedestal can then make a statement together. 

Selecting the Right Material for the Table or Pedestal

Selecting the right table or pedestal to compliment your modern sculpture is extremely important. Even the most beautiful sculpture can loose its shine if it clashes with its surroundings. I recommend thinking about what material will compliment your modern sculpture the best. You’ll want it to contrast enough that the sculpture stands out but not too much that they appear mismatched (unless of course you’re going for a dramatic look). Most importantly, you want the table or pedestal to be a good quality and aesthetically pleasing piece of furniture. You also want to make sure that it is understated enough that it becomes part of the background and allows the sculpture to stands out. 

Lighting for your Fine Art Sculpture or Painting

Lighting really does do wonders. For my work in particular, I have found that a work of modern sculpture or a painting can look completely different in different types of light. 

The Right Kind of Light

Whenever possible I recommend, using natural light to show off your painting or modern sculpture. Most high quality modern fine art is made of natural material so it only makes sense that natural lights will bring out its best features. For example, my metallic glazed ceramic sculptures sparkle when placed by a window, but appear dull when under florescent lighting. I presume that the minerals reflect the light. However, for spaces without natural light I recommend installing natural light bulbs in your lamps, track lighting, etc. You can find out if bulbs are natural light bulbs by looking at the lighting facts box on the back of the package. Natural light bulbs should have somewhere around 3070k and should be on the warm side of the spectrum graph.

Giving your Modern Fine Art a Spotlight

For fine modern art, I highlight recommend installing a spotlight of some sort in addition to your current living room, bedroom, or office lighting. For paintings, overhang spotlights are widely available and do wonders for showcasing paintings. For sculpture, I recommend simple track lighting. Track lighting is great because the single bulb fixtures can be adjusted even if you decide to rearrange the room or slighting move the modern sculpture. Track lighting can also be used to spotlight multiple wall sculptures and really bring the entire wall to life. 

Complimenting your Other Modern Fine Art

Another important factor to consider is making sure that each of your modern fine art pieces compliment each other in three distinct ways: color, style, and type. For color, they can of course be different colors, but make sure that each plays a part in the overall color scheme of your living room, bedroom, or office. Style, on the other hand, is a trickier matter. The style of your different modern art pieces can certainly be different and eclectic, but I would recommend that they have complimentary elements to them. For example, I really love it when wooden Southeast Asian and East African art are paired in a room because the pairing brings out the textures in the styles. These pieces also go really well with textured paintings. Lastly, you want to make sure to balance the type of modern fine art in a room. Living rooms with the right ratio of paintings, sculpture, and other types of modern wall décor feel complete and inviting. On the other hand, rooms with too many sculptures can feel a bit overwhelming, while rooms with just paintings can feel a bit cold.

Overall Plan for Displaying your Modern Fine Art Art

In summary, when buying modern fine art for the first time, I recommend having a rough plan. For instance if you know that you want to buy a painting for your living room, you’re going to want to first figure out how much room on your wall you have (not how big your painting should be – oversized paintings if it’s the right painting, can look fantastic), what style of painting you want and then how do you want it to make you feel when you walk in the room. If you know these three things a gallery or knowledgeable artist can point you in the right direct very quickly and advice you on arrangement and lighting. In fact, some artists and galleries will even install a painting or modern sculpture and ensure that it’s properly light for an extra fee. I know that I am always happy to advice my clients.

If you’d like any further advice on purchasing or displaying modern ceramic sculpture, please feel free to contact me. I want my clients to be delighted when they walk into their homes or offices and see my work.