Living with pictures

Excerpt from the book “Art Retreat 2020-21 – Living with pictures”

Collect, arrange and enjoy art

There are many reasons to collect art: prestige, value and appreciation of the artist’s reputation may play a role for one collector, a personal relationship with the artist, the joy of collecting or the responsibility for art and its promotion for another. In addition, there are those who are profit-oriented, for whom a work of art is primarily an investment without there being a personal, emotional connection or in-depth specialist knowledge.

Amazingly, they are also advised to make enthusiasm for a work of art the supreme reason for their decision to buy. Because whoever buys a work of art does not simply acquire a handmade object, but there is always also spirit and soul – that which one secretly longs for.

Building an art collection not only generally makes a company better known, it also gives the collector a high sympathy factor in the intellectual world. The emotional boost, the joy of collecting and arousing astonishment, are the intention with which we would like to present pictures and art objects from all over the world in this book. And a longing for the far-away has always been a driving force of many collectors. The selection of works of art in various styles and painting techniques from countries around the world is both surprising and fascinating at the same time.

Refuge of the muse

Anyone can set up a refuge for a musical retreat at home – for example in a corner of a room or on the wall above a fireplace or piano, perhaps separated by a folding screen or a stylish shelf. Pictures shape the character of a room, they create moods, they subtly influence what is happening through motifs, colors and shapes. In an art refuge you can have a dialogue, breathe in thought impulses, let your mind and soul be inspired, and maybe you will come up with new ideas because the perspective changes. A reading area can be decorated with a stylish table lamp, candles, fragrant flowers and mirrors. (The latter enlarge the space.) On an antiquated chair or stool there are books that you are reading or CDs that you always want to listen to in peace. It is ideal if the place is combined with a beautiful view or the proximity to a flickering fire by the fireplace.

Art makes the room noble, it soaks it with an intellectual touch. A terracotta bust is a reminder of the craftsmanship of the Etruscans or Roman antiquity. Works of art address the emotions. The muse raises the quality of life through sensitive experience and promotes communication. The passionate art lover can stand out from everyday life at any time, letting the pictures speak for themselves. In the surroundings of art, creative spaces of thought develop, which are inspired by meditation, silence and poetic power.

With colors and light to inspire the spirit

In the old days, when there was no internet or even color printing, people devoured every original picture with their eyes. Today we are overloaded with images and it is time to pause or find a mindful way to enjoy them. The meditation instructions in this book may not only encourage you to create a refuge for art, but also to regularly draw your attention to a picture and to relax with art in a wonderful way. For that reason mostly meditative and relaxing images have been chosen.

Targeted lighting emphasizes certain images, but works on paper in particular should be protected from direct sunlight. The question of whether a room is primarily used in daylight or artificial light is also relevant. Daylight from the side is desirable, but it is not recommended to hang pictures on the wall opposite the window unless anti-reflective glass is used in the frame.

Communicating nonverbally with the whole world

Moreover, it is fun to add smaller objects, for example, and elevate them to objects of art in order to create a heightened spatial illusion. With a pleasing arrangement, one also practices the non-verbal language of art, in that feeling for the relationship between images and other things. You enjoy the pleasure of putting together arrangements and changing them again. In this way, many new statements can be discovered in the pictures at the same time. If the objects are chosen carefully and the proportions are balanced, it can make a room look even bigger. Diversity creates an exciting tension and tells stories about the residents.

Plea for the small format

Own originals even in a small living space

The desire or interest in unusual possessions can be satisfied even when the lack of space becomes a problem. Small-format artworks in particular resemble precious crystals and fit into any niche, no matter how small. In classy folders, cassettes or behind wooden sliding and cabinet doors there is space for additional pictures, which can be re-arranged depending on your preferences and mood. Art shouldn’t be seen as a product made exclusively for sale, because most of the time you buy a picture because you just can’t resist it. The small works of art on the colored pages of the book can be enjoyed like a sip of noble wine or the scent of a wonderful flower.

Tasteful design and relaxation

In addition to collecting small-format pictures, art lovers should be encouraged to create a completely new work of art from a picture arrangement in their home environment. Pictures with smaller formats are ideally suited to design the interrelationship between pictures and their surroundings with skill and sensitivity, even in a smaller space, and to experience art with pleasure. For in art you discover worlds that you might miss in your own life. The picture wall can also be opposite the door, so that it catches the eye when entering the room, or it serves – perhaps in the form of a folding screen – as a free-standing privacy screen. A simple room can serve as a frame for the picture wall, which can be viewed in meditative calm. A picture wall can consist of pictures of the same color, but also of the same medium, style or content.

Or you can spontaneously sort them according to taste and associations – composed like a symphonic work with overture, main part and finale. The living environment then has the special charm of a miniature museum. And you can visit it every day! In this sense, small pictures are also well suited to distributing them over several rooms. Artfully framed, the pictures can be put together in pairs and groups of four or – according to the St. Petersburg hanging – lavish, densely hung themed walls can be created. And then the works of art begin to tell a story, stimulate the craving for food or spread a touch of the exotic. It doesn’t hurt if you choose a few magenta-colored pictures to match the perhaps wine-red armchair in order to arrange them with sculptures, poems or other objects. The three-dimensional combination also gives the images more depth.

Color and space

The colored background design of the room needs to be well thought out. For a room facing north, you shouldn’t use colors that are too cool or too dark. An intense dark wall color, in turn, increases the effect of antiquated frames. Purple is a traditional color for picture galleries. In conjunction with gold, it gives a room royal splendor. Likewise, violet and white, as well as green with gold, convey a luxurious aura, while yellow and orange create a sunny mood. A cheerful image with a vivid color will also suit a sunny mood. Color also spreads fragrance and sound in the room. Walls can take up the coloring of the pictures and be designed in a similar tone or complementary color.

The pictures can continue in three dimensions into the room, or the color design of the room can lead to the picture wall. With the latter design principle, individual images can be staged. A smaller work of art is then given – for example – a particularly ornate, oversized frame and becomes – like an icon – a dazzling eye-catcher. Corridors and less used entrance areas of the house are particularly suitable for this. Minimalist art appears to best advantage in minimalist rooms. The opposite “extreme” would be to “pave” a room all around or in a mosaic shape with pictures. Narrow corridors or stairwells become small galleries and acquire a very special charisma.

Collages or different painting techniques with different surface properties can also be combined to create artistic scenes. Above all, the sense of touch is addressed, while motifs with fruit, drinks and food animate the sense of taste. Color, texture and image motifs result in a musical scale, a lyrical sound that can be intensified by reading poetry. Or you can also play with the light decoratively. Upward spotlights create an intimate atmosphere. With light you can create subtle moods and reflections. A similar vibrancy as with natural light can be created.

Frames and arrangement

Small-format pictures can also stand on a chest of drawers, on the window sill or on a shelf. You can then easily take it in your hand, make yourself comfortable in the wing chair or lying down and enjoy its beauty in peace. Like on a house altar, they can be used as part of a still life, even if their subject is not a still life at all. You can then pick them up again in hand at will and place them back in three rows, or put them in a better light. The motifs can best be viewed from the low eye level of the seated person; for example nature and the moon are ideal when complemented with poetry. If you want, you can also turn conventions upside down, for example by hanging pictures in front of a photo mural with blossoming trees or in front of a cross window, as if they were floating.

The greater the number of images, the more subtly our subconscious makes imaginative connections between them. Gilded or white frames make the pictures shine. Frames accentuate groups of pictures and at the same time go well with the (perhaps carved) furniture. A uniform optical effect is achieved through regularity and symmetry. To the right and left of a door or as a border around a kitchen hatch, pictures themselves then simulate the effect of an artistic frame. But disorderly arrangement also has its charm. Chaos is only another form of order that just requires a different way of looking at things. A philosophically well-thought-out mish-mash and apparent chaos go well with art, because it is mysteriously free, like thoughts, spirit and the soul.

artretreat 2020-21

The text in this post is an excerpt from the book “Art Retrat – Living with Pictures”, 2020-21, vol. 6.