Light up your collection

Light up your collection

A painting illuminated by old-fashioned incandescent lighting (left) and by LED lighting (right).

Obtaining a art is always a joy, but many new owners don’t pay attention to the way they will light their treasure after it arrives in their house or office. No matter how amazing the image, the pleasure it can offer you, your loved ones, and friends could be seriously diminished if you can’t view it as the artist intended.

One Western painting viewed with three different settings of its Correlated Color Temperature; from top to bottom: 2700k, 3000k (which is optimal), and 4000k.


Accurate and secure lighting is essential in this regard. This report focuses on acrylic and oil paintings since they are the simplest and most enlightening to discuss: they’re usually resistant to mild, unlike functions on paper (which need lower light levels to avoid fading) and sculpture (which should ideally be lit from several angles). For a painting, the primary objective is to show all its colors and appreciate fluctuations without distracting your eye with varied levels of brightness across the surface.
Until the 21st century started, we relied upon incandescent or halogen bulbs, which proved problematic since they accelerate the decomposition of the pigments on your painting, sometimes resulting in fading, cracking, or colour changes. In our time, the coming of LED (light emitting diode) bulbs triggered a welcome revolution, yet some light producers failed to fully take advantage of these bulbs’ smaller size, keeping their bulky fixtures and simply replacing the bulbs within them. The very richest collectors can afford to hire lighting designers; those are seasoned professionals who often work with interior designers to lighting a room and everything in it, for example, art. As you would expect, they look after their customers’ technical requirements; the right lighting equipment only shows up, chosen expressly for each art on your space.

MATTHIAS ANDERSON is a contributing writer to Fine Art Connoisseur.


This short article is about that ( justly expensive) market, but instead about individual collectors who have the time to cope directly with the firms that manufacture lighting intended for fine artwork. To provide the best support, the better ones (such as Situ Art Lighting at Naples, Florida) ask the customer to send a smartphone photo of the artwork (shown in its own frame) as well as a note about its moderate (e.g., petroleum ), service (e.g., canvas), and dimensions (both framed and unframed) before they make recommendations about which product you should purchase. If the art is important to you, it is well worth taking the time to address such details now. And let us be clear: the light you end up ordering may not be economical. It may cost several hundred dollars per artwork, but if you purchase the proper gear, it will last a long time along with the painting will constantly seem terrific.
A lot of individuals assume that each and every painting requires the exact same uniform illumination across the whole surface. That’s true for most abstract paintings, and for symbolic scenes which are ordinarily bright, even glowing. However, for portraits, sunsets, and somber scenes, it makes more sense to emphasize (“accent” in the trade) a specific area — perhaps the centre, or even the face in a portrait.
Smart lighting manufacturers will examine the photo of your art whilst keeping in mind several technical factors that many laymen don’t know about. First up is the Color Rendition Index (CRI), a numerical measure of a light’s ability to display all the colours in a painting as they would look under daylight. The maximum CRI is 100: Generally, a dimension over 90 results in crisp colors across the whole visible spectrum. Knowing that a product’s overall CRI is not the complete story, however: the light which will illuminate artworks containing strong red tones also needs to have its CRI R9 score assessed. That is just another reason sending the photo ahead will assist the manufacturer serve you better. Older technologies (like halogen) had a CCT in the range of 2500–2700k (“k” stands for kelvins) and produced a light that has been yellow or amber. Now the best LEDs have a 3000k CCT that’s more impartial at efect; when followed by a CRI in the 93–95 selection, the outcome is crisp light suited to most paintings.

Information: situlighting.com, revelite.com, cernogroup.com/ products/cernoartlight


LED light ofers other advantages: it does not emit infrared or ultraviolet rays, and it creates very little heat. Producers now ofer a range of options, such as plug ins, wireless, and rechargeable. Many LEDs are adjustable by hand, attaching to the bracket with magnets so that no tools are required, and many can be controlled by remote control or automatically switch of following fve hours in the event you accidentally leave them .
LEDs have facilitated an collection of more streamlined fxture designs, though many collectors still go with a slender bar made from brass or aluminum running across the top of a frame. The best producers cut these bars to the length that suits the size of your painting, together with the”smallest” potential profle so that the bar almost disappears visually.
If your artwork is covered by glass, the warmth from the light’s refection may obscure your enjoyment of this picture. To address this, you’ve got several options. First, consider removing the glass: many paintings do not require such protection since their varnishes will keep dust away from the pigments. Or reglaze the painting with non-refective Museum Glass (a trademarked product of Tru Vue, Inc.), that can be more expensive but worth it. If you are sticking with glass, then put in your light as high as possible above the painting, or install it in the base of the frame so it”uplights” the scene. Regardless, it’s all about angles: be ready to spend some time correcting the lighting and testing what you see out of diferent vantages in the room.
Tall paintings really are a special challenge because most producers create bulbs and gear that cast light down for 30–40 inches. If your painting is higher than this, work extra closely with your provider. Options illuminating up to 60 inches do exist, however, they’ll take more planning.
This rule of thumb identifies virtually all lighting jobs: a bit of extra efort, and perhaps a bit more spending, will result in pleasurable viewing for decades to come.

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