After you have acquired a work, or works, of art the next thing that comes into play is – how to take care of it. We receive many questions each year concerning - lighting, hanging, environment, cleaning, dusting, damages and insurance. Over the next few months I will attempt to summarize our thoughts on each of these topics. The first one I will tackle is – how to hang a work of art.
While this is a very easy thing to do, you should not take a single nail, hammer it straight into the wall and hang the work. More than likely, this will not be enough support for the work and you will find that one day, the painting may fall and sustain some damage – something we want to avoid!
To begin with, take a look at the back of the frame and see if a wire has been attached. If not, you will need to buy wire that was made for the weight of your work of art. If you are re-hanging a work that has been in your possession for a long period of time, please check the wire to make sure it is structurally sound and that the clips, or screw eyes, that were used to attach the wire to the frame are secure – if the wire is frayed or the screw eyes are loose, please change them.
Next, you will need a couple of picture hooks. If the picture hooks were not included with the painting, you will need to visit you local hardware store and purchase them. Know the approximate weight of the work you are going to hang as picture hooks come in a variety of sizes. If you are not sure, I always recommended that people err on the side of caution, buy a size or two bigger than what you think you need – it cannot hurt.
You should also know what types of walls are in your home – sheet-rock, concrete, plaster, wood, etc. and note if there are any special treatments on those walls – e.g. if you have padded fabric walls you may need to buy extra-long nails.
Assuming that the work is wired and that you have a couple of picture hooks, you will need a tape measure, pencil and a small hammer (for this example, I am assuming that we are hanging a painting with an overall size of 33 x 40 inches). Look at the back of the work and find the center of your wire. Next measure 6 – 7 inches left and right of center (for smaller works you will need to adjust this distance accordingly). These will be the spots where the picture hooks will touch the wire. Next, on the back of the frame, measure from the bottom of the frame to one of the points where the wire is going to rest on the picture hook – for our example we will use 28 inches (please see diagram below).
Next measure from the floor up – taking into account the height of any furniture that may be below the work and the amount of space you want between the furniture and the bottom of the frame. For our example we will assume that the painting is going to hang over a sofa that is 36 inches high and we want the bottom of the painting to be 8 inches above the sofa: 36 inches + 8 inches = 44 inches.
Now all you need to do is add the two measurements (44 inches + 28 inches = 72 inches) and you will have the height at which you place your picture hooks. Finally, find the center of the wall/space on which you want to hang the work and measure 72 inches from the floor. Now place your picture hooks 6-7 inches from each side of this mark and then hang your picture – it should be perfect!
While you can hang a work of art on 1 picture hook, and this will be fine for very small works, you will find that if you use 2 picture hooks, spaced about 12 - 14 inches apart, the painting will remain level on the wall for a longer period of time. As I mentioned earlier, please keep in mind that if you plan on hanging a small work on two picture hooks you will need to shorten the distance between them.
Now, to be honest, I cannot tell you that this is the way I do it … after hanging so many pictures, for so many years, I just ‘eyeball it’ … and if I make a mistake, I pull the hooks out and try again!!
Market Update: Stock vs. Art
I am sure that almost everyone continues to read the papers and listen to the TV/radio reports about the roller-coaster stock market. I am also pretty confident that we are all sitting in the same boat – watching our stock portfolios continue to sag; of course if your portfolio is increasing in value, please call me – ASAP!
Some 6 months ago I informed everyone about one of my portfolios – an IRA that I set up many years ago and, in total, contributed about $15,000. In December, when it had dropped to $40,000, I projected that at its current rate of decline it would zero out in about 10 years - well it looks like I may be slightly off. As of July it had a total value of $21,000 -- seems like I will be working a little harder and a little longer!!
As for the ‘art market’, from all recent reports, it appears that more and more individuals are looking to ‘invest’ some of their hard earned money in good quality works. May, June and early July are when the auction houses put forth the best they have to offer. Art from all periods and nationalities came on the block and while a lot of the material ‘left something to be desired’, those that were fresh, important and of great quality, made very strong prices and some even broke records. However, it was still nice to see that people were being very selective and that the market is very healthy as evidenced by the number of mediocre/poor quality works that failed to sell.
I am sure many of you have heard about some of the recent sales results, but just in case you missed them here are a few highlights:
The first one falls into the ‘Music Market’ – but it is an interesting result and I think that many of you will agree that it is ‘a work of art’. An original sketch-leaf for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was recently offered for sale in London. Estimated at £150,000 – £200,000 the work sold for a record £1.2m (about $1.93 million).
Picasso’s Marie Thérèse Walter, nu a Collier was sold in June for £15.9 million (about $23.75 million) and Monet’s 1906 Nympheas brought £13.5 million (about $20 million) – while not records for either artist, they were very healthy results. Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture Danaide made a record $18,159,500; Ernst Kirchner’s Akte in der Sonne, Moritzburg (Bathers) made an auction record £3.56 million ($5.25 million); and Emil Nolde's 1922 Blumengarten sold for a record £2.15 million ($3.2 million).
In 19th century arena (European & American) there were a number of strong prices realized: Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter made a record $4,959,500; Sir Alfred J. Munnings’ The Ford sold for £1.82 ($2.7 million); Giovanni Boldini’s Portrait of the Artist: Lawrence Alexander Harrison made an impressive $1,439,500; William Bradford’s small marine painting (13 x 19 inches) of two ships at anchor in Boston harbor made $459,000 (an auction record); Robert Salmon’s 9 x 11 inch view of Boston harbor made $552,500 (another auction record); Jean Eugène Buland’s Le Tripot sold for an artist’s auction record of $350,500; Julien Dupré’s La Moisson sold for $185,500 (while not a record for the artist, it is the highest auction price for a work of its size: 21 x 28 inches); Jean Béraud’s 9 x 13 inch Le Boulevard Montmartre sold for $273,500; Paul Fischer’s Summers’ Day on Radshuspladsen made a healthy $165,000 and Jules C. Cavé’s The Flower Girl made a record auction $133,000 (against an $18 - $25,000 estimate).
Contemporary artists also fared well – Jean Michel Basquiat’s 1982 Profit I sold for a record $5.5 million; Ed Ruscha’s Talk About Space made a record $3.53 million; Donald Judd’s Untitled made a record $4.63 million and there were numerous additional auction records made for some of the lesser-known artists.
Of course, the highlight of the season was Peter Paul Rubens’ The Massacre of the Innocents – estimated at £4 - £6 million – which sold for an astounding £49.5 million (about $76 million) – I wonder who came up with that estimate!!
As we have always stressed … quality works always find a buyer. So please find those artists whose best works are in your ‘comfort range’. You will rarely go wrong by ‘buying the best’!
Our new site is up and running. While the look and feel is similar to our old site, you will find that some of the features behind the buttons have been enhanced. The old ‘Online Inventory’ button now has a number of advanced search features attached to it … while you can still just browse through as in the past, you can also narrow your search by artist, subject, size or keywords. This should make your visit more enjoyable and faster.
We have also changed the old ‘Gallery Artists’ button to ‘Services/FAQ’. While these features were added a few months ago, they were difficult to locate.
We would greatly appreciate it if you would take the new site ‘out for a spin’ and tell us what you think.
Howard L. Rehs
Gallery Updates: If you plan on stopping in for a visit during the month of August, please remember that our hours are Tuesday – Thursday 10:00am – 5:30pm and all other times by appointment.
We have added some interesting works by Sally Swatland, Emile Van Marcke, Édouard Cortès, Aston Knight and Heidi Coutu to the site.
Virtual Exhibitions: This month we have added two works to – Rehs Galleries: A Visual History… The first is a large landscape by the French artist Leon Joubert entitled Un Coin de Seine a Lavacourt and was the work the artist chose to exhibit at the Paris Salon in 1899. The second work is a small painting by the important French animal painter Emile Van Marcke de Lummen titled Vaches a Pâture. Van Marcke’s work was in great demand during his lifetime and the wealthy American collectors, including Johnston, Vanderbilt, Walters and Rockefeller, acquired many of them.
We have also added works to the Cortès, Aston Knight, Dupré, Munier & Swatland exhibits.
Next Month: I will discuss a number of ways to properly light a work of art.