If I were still suffering from visual and moral dyspepsia after yesterday's tour of a
So, you might ask, what has got me on this path. In a word, Pinterest. Don't get me wrong – I don't dislike Pinterest, but my ability as a twenty-first-century man living at this week's apex of technological advancement to use a lot of time looking at pretty pictures (dogs or rooms, it doesn't matter) is truly worrying. I cannot blame Pinterest for that. These photographs below and their ilk, from a Google search, have led me to rethink the placement of five drawings (they hang in a row) on our living room wall – remove them altogether or leave one.
It's not just the incoherence, absence of balance, or the seeming unconsidered nature of the relationship to the wall and the room itself that bothers me: it is that they are not contained (in my old-fashioned way, I prefer disparate images to be contained, grid-like, within an implied border and despite asymmetry have balance) and appear to disperse from more than one centre. Also, it looks as if someone spent a lot of time trawling flea-markets – in itself not a bad thing, unless you're me, that is.
I realize, also, these present day asymmetrical arrangements of images and objects, so-called gallery walls, are not just reactions to static, yawn-inducingly-traditional groupings, such as in the photograph below, but a definite but not extreme attempt in their beginnings to enliven a modern way of living in traditional interiors. Now these gallery walls are a fad and as to whether that is a bad thing the jury is still out. What I do know is that asymmetry is hard to achieve without an eye educated about balance.
There are precedents of course, not few and far between: two literally gallery walls (Uffizi and Royal Academy) and they share a common purpose – display, both artistic and social - with the following two (Van Day Truex and William Pahlman). I'm not sure if Pahlmann's is an in-store display or a residence but either way that display of artwork above the cabinet must have seemed wonderfully modern at the time. Pahlmann's work is a little hard to assess at this remove but that is a discussion for another day.
John Zoffany's Tribuna of the Uffizi, 1772
William Powell Frith's A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881
Van Day Truex, 1944
William Pahlmann, 1950s
Behind this discussion (rant?) about placement of pictures on walls are thoughts I've been having about walls just being allowed to be themselves and not just supports for art or artifacts. Not revolutionary, this idea of having walls bare except for an applied finish, but it occupies me and I would like to discuss it in the near future.