Exhibition Hanging Styles

How shall I hang it?

As students begin to prepare for their exhibition, it is worth while to spend some time ( even one class time) looking at some different approaches to displaying art. Students can begin to plan their own show, and think about how they want to organize their work.

Of course the space available to most schools does not permit vast curatorial choices, but a little background on hanging styles won't hurt to know anyway.. it helps students make informed choices! The slides here can be used to introduce the hanging of a show and may be useful information to reference when compiling the Curatorial Rationale.

You might also find helpful: Methods of Display

Teaching Resource

The information on this page in a slideshow format:  ways of viewing and presenting art- show this brief introduction before students prepare to hang their own exhibition.

The White Cube

The origins of a bare white cube as a gallery space began in the 1930s. Unadorned white walls were the best way to show the new modernist artwork af the era, and this continues to be the most popular gallery type space today. The White Cube Gallery is also a contemporary art gallery in London.

  • When is a white cube the ideal space for showing artwork?

The Traditional Salon Hang

The traditional salon hang refers to Parisian "salons" of the 18th and 19th century. This sort of hang packed the pictures in, often reaching from floor to ceiling.

This example of a "modern" salon style hang at The Barnes Foundation groups various painting of different sizes, but stylistically related, on a ochre painted wall. Painted walls are often a feature of the salon style hang.

  • When is a salon style wall the ideal way for showing work?
  • How does color play a role in this salon hang?

Contemporary salon hang

The salon style can also be interpreted in a more contemporary context, with works grouped according to themes, or spread out across the wall at different heights.  In this group exhibition "Winter down", still at the same Barnes Foundation, small sculptural objects are interspersed among the images. The space between the pictures is also greater, and the walls are white.

  • When is a contemporary salon style preferable for showing work?

 Site Specific Installations

A site specific work is a work designed for a specific location, which may be the case if a student has created an installation either outside or inside.You can find out more about site specificity at  Installation Art or at Beyond the Studio

  • Why is this Banksy graffiti considered site specific?
  • How does the surrounding environment contribute to the meaning of the work?
  • When is a site specific situation appropriate?

note about There is always Hope

"Arguably Banksy’s most iconic piece, it appeared in South Bank, London in around 2002. The words ‘There Is Always Hope’ are written just behind a young girl, who can be seen reaching for a balloon in the shape of a heart. Intense debate has raged on over the years regarding the true meaning of this stencil, with a variety of ideas involving love, innocence and – obviously – hope." read more here

Whats your space like?

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an empty white cube as an exhibition space, especially in schools where space is at a premium. You might have a part of a wall, a corner of a room, a hallway. You will need to work creatively with what you've got.

  • Can you use outdoor space too? 
  • Is working directly on the wall an option?
  • Can you remove visual distractions, make the space as neutral as possible?
  • What is the best use of the space available?

Design your exhibition layout

In the visual journal, draw your exhibition space or imagined exhibition space from above, working out where each artwork would go.

This activity is discussed for students on page 216 in Visual Arts for the IB Diploma ( CUP)

  • Draw a floor plan of the space you have available.
  • Try out different placements of art works, keeping them true to scale.
  • Pay careful attention to size and placement of each piece and how they work together.
  • You can also construct a scale model of the space out of cardboard or polystyrene and play with placement of to-scale images in the space.

View some examples of students exhibition installations in the Student Gallery: Sophie, Exhibition HL , Viola, Exhibition HL

Live Performance art vs Video in Exhibition

If including a performance art piece in their show, Students will need to decide whether this will be LIVE or recorded, and label it accordingly in the  Exhibition Texts for the E submission for Exhibition. If the work shown at the exhibition is a video of a performance it must be labelled medium:video of a performance. Only work perfomed live at the exhibtion site is considered medium : Performance.

Please read the explanation of what is Performance Art provided by the Museum of Modern Art below or visit the page on Performance Art

Elements of Performance Art

Performance art usually consists of four elements: time, space, the performer’s body, and a relationship between audience and performer.

In performance art, the artist’s medium is the body, and the live actions he or she performs are the work of art. The term, used loosely at first, arose in the early 1960s as American practitioners sought a way to refer to and describe the many live events taking place at that time. Performance art usually consists of four elements: time, space, the performer’s body, and a relationship between audience and performer. Traditionally, the work is interdisciplinary, employing some other kind of visual art, video, sound, orprops. Although performance art takes the form of live action, it has reached a large public audience through documentation of the performance.

Documenting Performance

Performance art takes the form of live action, but it has reached a large public audience through documentation of the performance. Now that you have explored performances by Abramović, Acconci, and Schneeman, consider how each artist chose to document their works.

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