“Salon style” or “gallery style” refers to the hanging of artwork of side-by-side and one over another as seen in the picture to the left. This trend has been resurfacing in interior design and has long been a feature at The Art Exchange – Westland Gallery’s sister company down the street. With our upcoming exhibition, “The Art Exchange at Westland Gallery” we will be featuring a salon style wall. We want to share a little of the history behind the term with you.
The term “salon style” comes from the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture’s regular exhibitions which began in Paris in 1667 (Sawinsky). In order to showcase the work of so many students, the academy hung paintings as close together as possible, right from the floor to the ceiling! When the exhibition moved to the Salon Carre at the Louvre in 1725 the show became known simply as the “Salon" (Sawinsky).
Despite mixed feelings about Salon from many artists of the time, it is important to acknowledge the Salon as a stepping stone in the development of public art museums. It was an early opportunity for the general public to see important artwork.
As Salon style was the fashion in which public museums and galleries displayed art throughout the 19th century and into the early 20th century. It was also very popular in interior decorating at the time, and could be seen in the homes of impressive collectors (Sawinsky).
As with all things, the Salon style hang evolved over time and work began to be displayed more sparsely, though still far from what we are used to seeing in galleries today. The new ideal was to keep work at eye level so that the viewer might better interact with and contemplate the paintings.
Throughout the time of the salon and modified salon style hangings, the wall colour was not the stark white we are so used to today. Grayish-greens, and even red tones were popular (Sawinsky). As more and more space was left between the paintings, the colour of the wall was reconsidered moving through lighter tones to eventually arrive at the crisp white and widely spaced artwork that is now most common.
In today’s interior design world, you may not hear the term salon but instead “gallery style.” This fun and expressive trend is having an resurgence in today’s home decorating. We love the opportunity this provides to showcase multiple pieces from your collection in one room. Do you have a gallery wall in your home?