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Thread: print display; how high and how far apart?

  1. #1
    austin granger's Avatar
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    print display; how high and how far apart?

    Hello all. I was hoping those with more experience than I with displaying prints could help me out.

    I'm preparing for an upcomming show at a gallery where I'll pretty much be in charge of hanging my own work. The first question is whether there is a general consensus as to how high a print should be displayed. I've heard that about 58" from the center of the photograph to the floor is fairly standard, but that seems a bit low to me (maybe I just want people to "look up" to my stuff-ha!)

    My second question is how far apart to hang my prints. Basically, I'm trying to cram as many pictures as I can into this space without it looking like I'm trying to cram as many pictures as I can into this splace. How close is too close? I have 8x10's matted to 14x17 and 11x14's matted to 16x20. My frames are very simple matte black aluminum ("standard" style) As it stands now, there is a big wall of the gallery where my prints would be only about 8 and a half inches apart; do you think this is too crowded?

    It would kill me to have to start axeing (axing?) prints, but obviously, I would rather do this than have it look unprofessional.

    I would greatly appreceate any guidance.

    Oh, I'm about 5' 9" if that makes any difference...

  2. #2

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    print display; how high and how far apart?

    You can hang them as close as 4-6 inches apart, if every once in a while you separate them by a much larger space to break up the repetition. B&W can hang closer together than color.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  3. #3

    print display; how high and how far apart?

    The standard height for hanging art on the wall is to place a line two-thirds down the image at eye level. This way you get a little of the worshipful, upward gazing you so want, but the viewers don't go home with sore necks.

    I think that 58" is actually a couple inches higher than an average eye level.

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    print display; how high and how far apart?

    Bill, I think your are going to get as many answers as there are photographers out there. Dick's advice is a very good starting point. A lot depends on the size of the exhibition space - length of wall space; heighth of walls. And a lot depends on the size of your prints. 56" to 58" is a good range for "Eye Level." Depending on the size of the frame, eye level can be at the center line of the frame, 1/3 down from the top or 1/3 up from the bottom. Spacing is another matter. Dick is right about breaking up a truely repetative pattern. You want to create sentences and pauses, just like a conversation. To me, setting up an exhibition is just as creative as the work in the show, something I truely enjoy. Too bad there ain't no jobs out there! gene

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    print display; how high and how far apart?

    Sorry Bill. I meant Austin. A Mr Murphy has been hanging just off my shoulder the last couple of days!

    gene

  6. #6
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    print display; how high and how far apart?

    I've participated in the hanging of some shows. I didn't run the thing - I was just a grunt with a hammer who knew how to pull frames out of crates and match them up to the correct wall using a map. In other words, I could follow instructions - evidently a valuable skill ;-) That, and I gallery owner I know and trust does a lot of work with museums and has told me what he thinks works, and what the museum's think works. Now, this doesn't make me "right," it just gives me the basis for my own opinions. Clearly, YMMV!

    What I've done is a twist on what Dick suggests. We tried to find the "average" images in the show, and hang them so that 1/3 was above eye level, and 2/3 below. Eye level is, of course, debatable. Depends on your audience.

    Once you have that - the fun begins. It turns out that it's important to hang art so that it is level. It turns out that it's more important for the tops of the frames to be at the same height than it is for the visual center to be at the same height. The reason is distraction - when the tops of the frames are at the same height and level, people don't spend any time trying to figure out what "feels weird" about the exhibit - they just look at the art.

    There is considerable leeway in how close you can hang prints. It is often best to hang them in loose groups together, with visual breaks between groups. You can vary the way you hang the groups (hand a few in a circle, stair steps, vertically, etc.) if you are willing to call attention to the arrangement at the expense of the individual prints.

    In short, people write books about how to do this. My best advice is to pick a consistent style and hang it that way. Then, watch how people react to it - watch their eyes, watch where they stand, how they move between prints. This will suggest changes you might want to use when you hang shows in the future.

    Bruce Watson

  7. #7

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    print display; how high and how far apart?

    also check for any unwanted reflections

  8. #8

    print display; how high and how far apart?

    i have a friend who hangs exhibitions for a living on asking him the same question he said a good rule is to leave the size as the frame as a distance between pictures, so you are efectively doubling up sizes. that is to say if you have 10 frames at 100cm that will need 20 metres of wall to hang on.

    i've seen this guy's instalations from kounellis, goya to robert frank and obviously sometimes the rule is broken, but it's a good rule of thumb and has worked for me.

  9. #9

    print display; how high and how far apart?

    ps, every artist wants to "cram as many prints up as possible", it's a bad idea, i would recommend restraint and the advice of a good curator, friend or mentor.

    much beter 10 prints that expound the same "vision" or whatever than 30 pictures that are just "crammed" up there.

    most "artists" just cram them up there though, so you'll definetly not be the only one...

  10. #10
    austin granger's Avatar
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    print display; how high and how far apart?

    Thanks to everyone for the good advice. Strangely, I hadn't even thought of grouping images together and leaving larger spaces between the groups. There is one big long wall of the gallery where I was planning to hang 15 prints in a row and I knew it just didn't seem right... Anyway, thanks again.

    Austin

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