At one point in my photography career I photographed several rather prestigious and extensive art collections, from some very well-heeled art collectors living in Rancho Santa Fe, California and La Jolla, California. We’re talking Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir all the way through Warhol, Rothko, Mondrian, Picasso, and Pollock. I certainly was impressed by the art, but I was even more intrigued how these paintings fit into the interiors of these magnificent homes. To this day I’m still fascinated how a Picasso painting can fashionably meld with the most conservative interior and not look out of place. I was most struck by the fact that these were paintings that I mostly associated with great art museums of the world were so incredibly comfortable on the walls of these interiors. In a grand dining room that looked like a castle with heavy wooden table and chairs and a medieval looking fireplace at the end, promptly displaying a rather large abstract painting of Wassily Kandinsky. Not to be slighted by the position in the home, but along the corridor leading to the laundry room were a series of Warhol soup cans. Nothing short of eclectic, but stunningly well done.
Just about every interior style can benefit from a piece of modern, or my choice abstract art. Okay…I know this would be a tremendous reach in an Early American interior, but many of the rest Rococo, French Provincial, Mission, Mediterranean, on and on, often benefit from incorporating a great looking abstract painting.
When it comes to creating art for the home, man has been deeply committed, just take a look at the Lascaux, France cave paintings, probably the best example of early interior design using wall art, albeit painting on the wall rather than hung.
Upon exiting the Lascaux, France cave in 1940, Pablo Picasso said, ”We have invented nothing”
Why do we decorate our homes with paintings anyway? I suppose in many cases it’s a visual history providing a record and a showcase of what’s important in our lives. A remembrance from a place visited or a far off distant land, or simply a painting of a loved one(s). I don’t know what Woody Allen was thinking when he put that extremely disturbing photo on the dining room wall in one of his movies. But Goya on the other hand did something similar in his dining room, only to be interpreted by devotees of Freud for many decades creating a whole host of theories on why people associate certain art with where and how they live.
But more often than not, unless the wall art is carefully orchestrated by an interior designer it could be a real hodge-poge of art only representing a whim. You visit Carmel, California and you immediately think…”Oh wouldn’t that painting of a Monterey Pine with the Ocean be wonderful in our family room?” Probably the most sought after piece of art is the one that goes over your couch.
Wall art can be so much more. The right piece can inspire, motivate and create profound periods of contemplation. Many of the top CEO’s, especially those related to high tech businesses embrace abstract art. At first it’s the result of the designer or someone wanting to look really hip and futuristic, but upon closer examination and through my own conversations I’ve learned that many of these entrepreneurial thinkers really immerse in a good abstract painting. Especially if it has depth of composition and color. There is nothing like trying to come up with a new idea, concept or just plain old solve a problem when you sit back and lose your thoughts in the visual of a solid abstract painting. A good painting in this genre can give so much to the viewer. And probably most interesting, is it changes with mood, light and ambient sounds.
Representational art or Non-Representational art as part of interior design. When you visit a home that is fashionably decorated you might see an impressionist painting knock-off of a Monet painting or depending upon the budget you could easily run into a Thomas Kincade. Now I would be the last to criticize because I grew up in a Southern California home where art was purely something to cover a bare wall. And if it matched something else in the room, more the better. As a child I would often day dream and wonder where that little town or village was. Do deers really come down and drink from a stream out the front door? Or did women really carry parasols while wearing a hat in a beautiful bowed white dress in a field of red flowers? There was definitely some tinkering with my boyish imagination. All that changed when I got Dave Brubeck’s LP – Take Five. The art on that album created a new synapses in my brain. After that, the rewiring process began. As I visited more homes, offices and hotels I began to pay more attention to the art on the walls and quickly understood how a dynamic and large abstract painting, even if it was as simple as a broad field painting could really be the focal point of any room.
To this day abstract art is highly collectible and can be as important to the interior environment as any piece of furniture. You don’t have to be too daring to incorporate a unique piece of abstract art, it will keep any interior from looking like, as some interior designer’s say “Too matchy, matchy”. Eclectic is cool when tastefully done. I shows good taste and if i dare say, some real class.
Abstract art goes perfectly well with classical music, jazz music, fine wine, freshly painted walls, plants, warm cozy fireplaces, a thinking environment (like an office), and it especially goes well with the all time classic Chicken in a Biscuit crackers & squeeze cheese.