SELECTING ARTWORK FOR INTERIORS
Mel Fee Adv. Dip.IDD
ART IN SOCIETY
Public Art is a mirror that reflects the local
environment, cultural values and artistic
vitality of the community.
When selecting art for a Public space it is hoped
that the work will have, and give ,meaning to
the space and inspire those who have the
opportunity to see it.
Public Art is usually durable, easy cared for
material, especially that exhibited in non-
controlled environments and outdoors.
ART IN INTERIOR SPACES
For much of the last part of the 20th
century, the acquisition of
artworks for display in homes and
workspaces was primarily
intended for aesthetic
Today, a blurring of the edges has
changed our understanding of
where art starts and stops giving
the Interior Designer the
opportunity to either:
a. Create an environment around
an artwork or
b. B. Enhance an environment
through the inclusion of an
ART & CONTEXT
A major factor in the
appreciation of art is
knowledge of its
timeframe – when a
work of art was made,
and under what
circumstances – how
cultural factors of the
time may have
influenced the artists.
For instance, Picasso’s
Guernica was created
in response to the Nazi
bombing of the city of
Guernica in Spain,
population and creating
devastation in the lead
up to World War II.
The artwork remains today
as a chillingly dramatic
protest against the
brutality of war.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTING
1. Research the artist, the type of art
they create, and the era in which
2. Determine the purpose of the
• Will it serve as decoration?
• Is it an allusion to wealth/ stature?
• Is it intended to disturb the viewer?
• Will it enhance a theme or idea?
• Will it make a political or social
• Is it part of a collection?
• Will it assist to alter to a rooms
• How will it be acquired? Auction?
Purchase? Hire? Commission?
• The commissioning of an artist can occur
1. By approaching an artist directly.
This requires the purchaser to be
familiar with the work of the selected
artist and be prepared to negotiate
clearly a specific brief;
1. Through an art dealer/commercial
gallery or agency. Many artists are
represented exclusively by an art gallery
or agency so that their work must be
mediated through the gallery or agent.
When selecting or commissioning art a
number of factors must be considered:
• Size and scale of the room;
• Framework (if any);
• Arrangement (grouping);
• Lighting (to effectively showcase the piece
without inflicting UV damage)
Long before they could write, artists
painted pictures of animals on
cave walls as an early form of
• This period covers several civilisations.
This type of art was usually war inspired
propaganda and also focussed on
religious and tomb art.
• It is often masculine, but also refined and
sometimes comic and highly imaginative.
• Most Egyptian art was made to adorn the
• It is highly colourful and symbolic, usually
demonstrating a narrative, however less
dramatic and realistic the mesopotamian
ANCIENT GREEK ART
• The Greeks artists invented the
perspective drawing to allow artists to
represent the world realistically., although
in an idealised fashion (no pot bellies, zits
or receding harlines!).
• Aclassical art period known for its
otherworldly calm and beauty.
An era where art is stripped of its idealism,
although statues are still physically
Expressions of anger, sorrow, and fear were
evidenced for the first time in the
dramatic portrayal of this artwork.
ETRUSCAN & ROMAN ART
8TH CENTURY BC – 4TH CENTURY BC
• Borrowed extensively from the
Greeks, with a Roman
• Features a continuation of a
focus on tomb art, although the
early Etruscans seemed to
demonstrate a happy existence
in their art and viewed death as
a pleasant continuation of life.
AD 500- AD1453
• Symbolic art, less naturalistic than the
Greek and Roman predecessors.
• Byzantine art points to the hereafter
rather than the here and now. Icons
(mages of Jesus, Mary and the saints) is
the most popular form.
• Mosaics were also a favourite medium of
An era which followed the fall of
Rome and before the
Featured art forms in stained glass
windows, silver and golden
reliquaries (containers for
holy relics – bones and other
body parts of saints).
Medieval arts is steeped in
mysticism and symbolism with
a focus on the after life.
• Renaissance means “rebirth” and
although the images are still dominated by
religion, the images in the art tend to
celebrate man and things of this world.
• The rising value of the individual led to
many portrait commissions.
• To make paints and sculptures look 3
dimensional, artists worked on the
mathematical law of perspective.
• Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and
Raphael defined this era. All three strove
for perfection and often found it in stable,
geometrically shaped compositions.
• This period features idealised subjects
with an aura of beauty and calm.
• After mastering nature, artists began to
intentionally distort it. Elongated human
figures, contorted postures and distorted
landscapes are features.
• Art was no longer a window into the
idealised version of the world, but a
window into the fanciful imaginations of
• Baroque became a propaganda weapon in
the religious wars between Catholicism
and protestantism . The Catholic Church
wanted art to have a direct and powerful
emotion appeal that would grab the
attention of ordinary people and bind
them to the faith. Cathedrals were stuffed
with dramatic sculptures and paintings.
Protestant artists went out of their way to
downplay the importance of saints,
preferring images of everyday events that
read like fables.
• Baroque artists traded the geometrical
composure of the Renaissance for the
drama that involved the view.
• Baroque artists were also retained by the
wealthy and royalty to commission work
which celebrated their wealth and power.
• Defined as “Art on a Binge”, baroque is the
art favoured by royalty who had too much
money to spend.
• The ornamental quality of Rococo is often
more important than the subject matter.
• This style of art which eminated
during the Industrial revolutions, was
used to convey a political and or
• The men and women of the period
are depicted as Gods and heroes,
their pose often grandiose gestures
that are larger than life.
Late 1700’s-early 1800’s
• Artists of this era shunned the
industrial revolution and attacked
the excesses of the royalty.
• Some took refuge in nature,
others sought a mixture of fear
and awe in the sublime landscapes
• Imagination with a capital I and
Nature with a capital N were the
outcome of this creativity.
This period reasserted the integrity of
the physical world stripping it of
It was the artists intention that life be
painted with a rugged honesty.
ARTS & CRAFTS
• Artists created art to counter the negative
effects of the Industrial Revolution – gritty
They rejected the materialistic society and
returned to the mysticism of the Middle
Ages, focussing on hands on work with a
focus on decorative art.
• Impressionists painted a slice of
everyday life in natural light –
people on a picnic, a walk in the
park, an outdoor summer dance.
It is renowned for capturing the
subtle changes of atmosphere and
• Impressionist paintings convey the
fleeting quality of life.
Not necessarily an art movement, but a
classification of a group of diverse
artists like Vincent Van Gogh and
Henri Toulouse Lautrec who painted
in the wake of Impressionism.
• A Short lived movement headed by
Henri Matisse and AndreDerain,
wherein a simplified form or art was
• Perspectives where flattened, which
made their art look more like
wallpaper. It is generally considered
inspiring, decorative and fun to view.
• A German movements where in artists
distort the exterior of people and places
to express the interior.
• On an expressionist canvas, a scream
distorts not just the face but the whole
body. Similarly the madness inside an
aslyum twists the architectures itself so
that it too looks mad.
• This artwork era fractured physical reality
into bit-sized units.
• The artists impression of Einsteins theory
of relativity – all is relative – what you see
depends upon your relativity.
• Pablo Picasso invented Cubism so people
could observe all views of a person or an
objet at once.
• This artwork era also fractured
physical reality into bit-sized units.
• Futurists embraced technology and
speed and unfortunately violence
and fascism, and this was reflected in
the volatile aspect of their work.
• Their movement was based mostly in
Italy and Pre revolution Russia.
• In response to WWI, DADA art was aimed
to mock the prevailing culture, including
• Its reasoning was that the rational
thinking created the war and the antidote
to war must be irrational thinking.
• Surrealists hoped to fix humanity by
snubbing the rational world. They
sought to get in touch with the
deeper, instinctual reality of ones
• They painted their dreams, and
mixed up the order of life in the art
by juxtaposing objects that don't’
normally fit together – e.g. a vacuum
cleaner plugged into a tree.
• Russian artists of this pre war period
refused to make art for galleries or
museums. They wanted to create a
practical art that ordinary workers could
use and that represented the modern
utopia that Socialism was supposedly
An Artform based on artistic geometry
achieved with a few shapes and primary
colours – red, blue and yellow along with
black and white.
It was believed that there are 2 types of
beauty – subjective which is linked to the
world and its senses, and objective which
is considered universal and abstract.
This artform wanted to depict the objective
beauty, so they avoided realism because it
awakened subjective feelings.
• After WWII German
Expressionism emerged and
sought to distort the fact of reality
(the way human faces are
distorted by exttreme feelings, but
are still recognisable), beyond all
• One of the most famous abstract
expressionists, Jackson Pollock
achieved this effect by throwing
paint on his canvases.
• Inspired by advertising and the
fantasies of stardom in America after
• This art is sometimes hard to
distinguish from the movies and the
ads they borrowed from .
• Inspired by generating concepts or
• In reality this art is often a type of
performance or happening that can
be very spontaneous and audience
• Postmodernist thinkers view
contemporary society as a
fragmented world that has no
• Consequently, postmodernist
artists and architects sometimes
borrow from the past and mix old
styles until they wind up with a
new style that reflects