Can you tell immediately if the framed picture above is an artfully enlarged family photo or a fine art photograph purchased at a gallery? Does it make a difference?
In his living room Rayman Boozer has hanging works by Karl Blossfeldt and Bruce Weber, plus a personal picture close by on a desk. When it comes to mixing fine art with personal photographs on the same wall, designers can be pretty polarized. Some prefer not to see a family photo hanging at all; for them bookshelves and side tables are the only acceptable spots. But others seem to be able to break the rules with great flair.
A reader asked me to explore the subject further. While I search for some images that haven't already been seen a hundred times, I thought I'd put the topic out there and share a few examples from past posts.
Amanda Peet mixes candid family shots with art. Coliena Rentmeester photographed the dense grouping for Domino. (Must click to enlarge this one!)
Did Schuyler Samperton chose to combine a personal picture with fine art in her vestibule? Photo by Paul Costello for Domino.
The most famous rule breaking example, in my mind, is India Hicks' dining room. Her dad, David Hicks, didn't like to see photographs hung on a wall, so India installed shelves to display a large collection of personal pictures. Arthur Elgort photographed the room for Vogue, 1998.
BTW: Boozer's blue living room made the May 2006 cover of Elle Decor. As Domino reported in April 2008, Peter Dunham uses art and family pictures for a story-rich interior (images four and five above). His family pictures below are on a desk, not a wall, but I had to share since they are so authentic in contrast with overly styled black-and-whites favored in recent years.
[Image cropped from Hollywood Style, photography © Tim Street-Porter, Rizzoli New York, 2004.]