[Image via Guggenheim Color]
One of the High's current exhibitions, Beaux Arts & Crafts: Masterpieces of American Frame Design 1890 – 1920, is relatively small and occupies just a sliver of gallery space. But when I entered it a few weeks ago, I felt transported. The deep wall color chosen as a backdrop for fifteen gleaming flames is enveloping. Ask me now if it's charcoal, slate, or a dark blue-green-gray and I'll probably answer incorrectly. That's sort of the goal of exhibition design -- experience the background color on a subconscious level and notice the objects on view.
[Paul Gauguin, Haere Mai, 1891. Oil on burlap, 28 ½ x 36 inches (72.4 x 91.4 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser 78.2514.16]
Sometimes curators and exhibition designers use a certain wall color to "tease out" a detail in a painting, or to unify a group of disparate objects; other times strong color might be used to create a specific mood. They test paints just like I do when I want to change my bedroom walls. Well, kind of. When the Guggenheim mounts an exhibition, designers begin with small-scale models of the gallery space, sample wall colors, and tiny replicas of the artworks. Later full-scale mock-ups are used in the real gallery to test color in varied lights.
Recently, the Guggenheim partnered with Fine Paints of Europe, Inc. (of Woodstock, Vermont) to create two lines of paint to be sold for residential and commercial use: Classical and Gallery.
Classical Colors encompasses 150 nuanced hues pulled from early-20th-century paintings in the Museum's permanent collection (See The Great Upheaval for a sense of the palette.) The Gallery Colors set is comprised of 50 colors based on paints used on the Museum's walls -- original shades chosen by the Guggenheim's architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and colors favored by the curators and living artists. Click here for details.
[Photo my own]
Related past post: A Colorful Conversation.