Art provides emotional and aesthetic satisfaction, enhancing our lives and the spaces in which we live and work. Further, artwork often single-handedly defines the aesthetic of a beautiful room, and can often register the strongest impression of any element in a home.
A Kenneth Noland painting over a fireplace in a New York home.
Painting ? Estate of Kenneth Noland. Photograph ? Peter Aaron/Esto Ike
Kligerman Barkley Architects (www.ikba.com).
Commissioning an architect or designer for a new house, a major expansion or even a modest renovation provides the opportunity to plan an interior environment that will showcase a collection and optimize the display of new or redeployed pieces. Choosing the best locations for signature pieces and curating the entire arrangement of a collection requires an expert?s eye and experience. Because architects and interior designers are necessarily focused elsewhere and often lack experience with the nuances of exhibiting art, collectors should entrust an art advisor with guiding the entire process.
A collaborative relationship between architect/designer, client and art consultant promises the best outcome for an art program. An experienced consultant comes to the table with an encyclopedic knowledge of art and will listen carefully to the architect and client?s thoughts about their goals for the art program: types of works, placement for desired impact and compatibility with the interior/exterior environment. With this information, the advisor can develop an initial conceptual plan?usually a two to three page document that will carefully consider the interior and exterior spaces and the types of art that would best serve these spaces, as well as price ranges of any additional pieces that might be required. This plan will establish the overall direction for the program, offering thoughts on how the art should be integrated into various spaces.
An experienced art consultant will first review the initial conceptual plan and preliminary recommendations with the architect/designer to ensure that the concept is in sync with the architect's vision. Together the team can be very effective in setting the tone for the residence, and in determining the type and character of space that will provide the best setting for the art. Modifications will be made to the plan if necessary, and when the advisory team is satisfied with the result, the plan will be presented to the client
Four photographs placed in the stairwell of an apartment.
Photograph ? Peter Aaron/Esto, Ike Kligerman Barkley Architects (www.ikba.com)
Early in the design phase, the art advisor will point out technical display and conservation issues. Proper lighting is a critical factor. When hanging works on paper (drawings, prints, or photography), the space in question should have no windows facing the afternoon sun (southwest in the northern hemisphere)?indeed, great effort should be taken to mitigate any direct sunlight. The experienced architect will have up-to-date knowledge of window glazing treatments, automatic dimmers, and shading systems that work in tandem with natural lighting to protect and preserve artwork.
Climate control of the environment, pest management and earthquake preparedness are also conservation issues to consider in the planning phases of design. Of course, one?s design approach differs drastically for an oceanfront home as opposed to a center-city high-rise condominium. With typically humid conditions at the ocean, most collectors avoid keeping valuable works on permanent display; some rotate their collections, removing pieces and sending them to climate controlled storage while giving other artworks an opportunity to be seen.
Collectors often wish to refresh an existing collection by simply re-hanging parts of it in new locations, resulting in a new perspective. When there is an existing collection, the art advisor must create an inventory―preferably long before the architect or interior designer is hired. Art is a financial asset, so building an informative inventory is crucial for reasons beyond making it is easier for an architect (or interior designer) to incorporate the art collection into the overall design scheme.. The inventory should be comprehensive, easily accessible and backed-up on a database and, in addition to basic information such as artist, medium and dimensions should include:
? Digital images
? Purchase price and periodic value updates
? Existing location
? Notes on framing
? Conservation history
? Individual condition reports
After establishing an inventory, the advisor can expertly assess a collection, make recommendations for consolidating works through deaccessioning, and recommend proper archival framing that will both highlight and protect works.
The installation phase of an art program requires close collaboration between client, architect and art consultant and is best discussed in the early stages of the architectural design. The team will want to plan in advance for options that may include:
? Installing a rail system for hanging to avoid nailing works directly to a wall surface
? Constructing glass shelving for small sculptures, or for leaning framed works (in which case the shelves must have a protective lip)
? Creating a niche recessed in the wall to showcase a painting
? Hanging a small collection salon-style on a wall with an accent color
? Placing sculpture on customized plinths of specific heights and widths to best suit the work and space
Existing collections should be safely removed to climate controlled storage during the construction phase. Newly purchased art should be delivered only when the construction is complete, or delivered to a storage facility rather than directly to the site. All of this can be professionally managed by the art advisor.
The combined aesthetic sensibility of the architect coupled with the knowledge and experience of an art advisor can result in exciting and novel visual ideas as well as assuring that a collection will be shown to its best advantage and work in harmony with the architectural design.
This Julian Opie print was used in a corporate conference
room. Print ? Julian Opie; Image courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery, London (www.alancristea.com)
Interview with John Ike, Residential Architect
To ascertain first hand the architect?s point of view on the integration of art into the design and collaboration with an art consultant, we interviewed prominent architect John Ike, partner in the firm Ike Kligerman Barkley of New York and San Francisco. Here are his thoughts:
What are your expectations of an art consultant?
For starters, an art consultant should be able to quickly gain an insight into a client?s point of view and preferences: subject matter, period and style (traditional vs. contemporary), medium (canvases vs. drawings, prints, photography or sculpture) and, of course, budget guidelines. The consultant must have a sure grasp and eye for the types of art that will enhance the interior and exterior design concept and elevate it to a higher level. Lastly, but of high importance, the consultant should have an expert knowledge of the market and have access to it. For the client who is not conversant with the art market, or doesn?t have an informed perspective, the consultant should be available for education, and make the process fun. Many, if not most people are intimidated by art. The consultant should put clients at ease, and give them confidence in their own instincts and innate judgment. The architect can't be expected to know everything; the art consultant should put the project in manageable, understandable components.
Do you include images of art in your initial presentation to the client?
Yes. A great art program is key to a successful interior. Art ranges from beautiful paintings to objects and furniture, like an Yves Klein table. The line between furniture and art is sometimes blurred.
How do you show the client the scale and impact of art in the home?
I always indicate art in plans and elevations to communicate the proposed locations and scale of pieces, even before final selections. This is followed up with an inspection of the artwork that is to be installed on the project to ensure that scale and size are correct.
Do you encourage your clients to commission artwork?
Commissioning affords a wonderful opportunity to realize exactly the right piece. One of my favorite commissions was for my clients IG Gindy. It was a large screen inspired by Ratteau, and was huge in scale. It reminds me of the Jos? Luis Sert I saw in Europe. Sert's commission in what is now in the Brazilian Embassy in Argentina and is a beautiful ceiling.
Ultimately, the intersecting points of view of collector, designer and art consultant will result in a collection that is ideally-displayed, well-maintained and documented, and complementary to the architectural setting in which it resides. One has only to look to the great museums and houses of the world to observe how great art and great architecture can co-exist in a distinctive, balanced environment.
IKE KLIGERMAN BARKLEY offers architectural services in an
established, diverse, design-oriented practice. With an emphasis on residential
architecture, their work is articulated in a variety of styles, synthesizing historical
precedent with contemporary vision. The firm has earned international recognition
for successfully transcribing the language of their architectural influences into
a modern idiom.