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How to Hang a Group Show

by Kathleen Spicer

Artists have a good eye, though many prefer NOT to hang group shows. It is not an easy task.


I do like hanging shows, I find the puzzle of laying it out to be like composing art itself. Some people prefer to know what the images are, have the sizes of the artworks and layout of the venue so that they can “pre-hang” the show in their mind or have a printed layout ahead of time. Personally, I like to have the work unwrapped and simply compose it on site without much preconceived thought. I like to work with just one or two other people, more than that can lead to confusion or indecision. If there are artworks that have multiple pieces or parts or artworks that need special hanging instruction it is helpful to know that in advance.

 Some exhibition spaces come with considerations such as how much weight can be hung in various locations, or how much glare may hit the artworks near direct light.

Before a hook or a nail goes into a wall, I move the works around the room to create harmony, balance, and points of interest. Often works may be stacked or hung “salon style”, like compositions within the whole.  

It can take more time to lay the show out then it takes to hang it. Personal preference is never a consideration when composing a group show. Artists can feel slighted if they do not like where their work is hung, but this is never intentional. The show must hang as a cohesive, consistent, and interesting exhibit. Scale, color, form, movement, and balance are key. There is never one recipe, every show has different ingredients and has its own flavor. I like to keep things spicey!



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