Space for Art – Tips for Collectors who are Running out of Room

For serious collectors, not much comes between them and a piece of art that summons their affections. Take a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting that sold at a recent Sotheby’s auction for a whopping $110.5 million (with a pre-sale estimate of $60 million). Setting all kinds of auction records, the exorbitant cost did not make this Japanese collector flinch.

But what happens when one simply runs out of room? When there is no more space to hang art or place another sculpture? According to Ross Parker, owner of the Florida-based Native Visions Galleries, there are ways for collectors to maximize space.

Build or Buy

Many collectors have multiple homes in which to display their art, and Parker has more than one client who has added additional rooms for that very purpose. A couple in Fort Lauderdale he works with bought an adjoining condominium as their collection grew, adding wall space and living space.

“The difference between collectors and buyers, is that buyers are looking to decorate, and collectors are very passionate about art,” Parker says. “People who collect cars, they will build more rooms for more cars. It’s no different with art; if they have the money, why not?”

The Rotation System

A piece of art can set the tone of a living space, whether it’s a large painting over a mantel, or a sculpture that begs for attention. Switching art around from time to time offers collectors a chance to breathe new life into a room. “Many have bought so much art over the years, and they like to switch them out,” Parker says. “They will take pieces down after a year and put more up in their place.”

The key with this method is proper storage in between rotations. “You need climate controlled storage rooms, and it doesn’t cost much to run air into a room that protects your artwork,” Parker says. He also recommends keeping art elevated in case of flood or ground moisture, with platforms that rise approximately four inches. And separate artwork with cardboard, so that nothing is touching. “The most important thing is to let it breath, and to keep it away from moisture,” Parker adds.

Creative Placement

Parker visited an art-collecting couple from Zimbabwe who had multiple framed pieces stacked on their walls with only an inch between. To his surprise, instead of looking cluttered, it was beautiful. “It was so well put together,” he recalls. “What you’re doing is making a collage on the wall or a grouping, coordinating paintings by genre, color, size or subject matter. It has to be done carefully, and it takes forethought.”

This works well with miniature and small works, and it can be put together like a puzzle. “You might group some of the greens and blues on one side of the wall,” he says. “Or just a wall of birds or zebras.”

Sculpture Arrangements

With today’s trends leaning towards contemporary homes and decor that’s more sparse, it can be difficult to place sculptures together like you might in a more traditional home. “Sculpture is very different, it needs breathing room,” Parker explains. “I like to put a painting on the wall and a sculpture on one side or either side, but there’s no set standard; it really depends on the room and the tastes. In more traditional rooms that are more cozy, I’ve seen people put more sculptures.”

A lot of sculpture, such as stone and bronze, can go outdoors to create a sculpture garden. “Obviously you have to consider the environment,” Parker says. “If you live near the ocean, you deal with salt and will have to get it cleaned more often. And I tell people to try and put it in the shade, because it will last longer.”

Parker himself is a collector, and he would never stop just for a lack of space. “People like me, they buy more paintings and put them on the floor of their office,” he laughs. “I’ve got stuff stacked around that I love. Ten years down the road, I might end up buying another house somewhere and I’ll hang it then.”–Corrine Garcia

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