Now that you’ve chosen which pieces to include in your salon-style collage, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to get them all on the wall. The best strategy is to measure your wall, use a string to outline a space on the floor with the same area, and start laying out your pieces there. First place the pieces that resonate most with you, and then take the plunge and start filling in the gaps with the rest. Carey and his pals started with two black-and-white Jock Sturges photographs. “It’s like arranging furniture,” Carey says. “You know you want the couch to face the fireplace, so you put that there; then you put the other pieces around it.”
Although Carey’s galleries are a mélange of mediums, you could certainly create a salon that cleaves to a single theme—say, black-and-white photographs, or works from a certain period, or sculpture only. The key is to keep moving things around until the composition feels right. Once it sits well with you, sleep on it and revisit the arrangement the next day with fresh eyes before hanging it on the wall.
There are three tools you’ll need to ensure proper and level hanging: A level, a pencil, and a tape measure (see “Tricks of the Trade” on the next page for tips). Carey eyeballed the negative space between each piece of art at 23Hoyt, deciding it didn’t need to be uniform—but if it’s important to you that the gaps between pieces are equal, be sure to measure carefully on the floor before you start putting holes in the wall. Remember that negative space can be as powerful as positive space. “It may seem like all the pieces are thrown up there, but the challenge is to make it a composition of parts,” Carey says.
Most of all, rest assured that there are no huge mistakes to be made with salon-style hanging, unless a piece is hung remarkably crooked. Don’t be afraid to switch out pieces and re-arrange things as the composition grows on you. A wall of art should be a living, breathing thing. And even a master of stylistic confidence like Carey sees pieces on 23Hoyt’s wall that he’d like to tweak. “Just try to create a mix and work in a balanced way,” he says. “Really, you only know if it’s a mistake once you see it on the wall.”