PUT YOUR PERSONALITY ON DISPLAY WITH A FRENCH-HANG WALL
Neale Whitaker on the art of a traditional French-hang wall.
It’s never been so important to be well hung or, perhaps more specifically, French hung. Pourquoi? We’re talking art here, of course. The “French hang” (sometimes referred to as the “salon hang”) has become an important trend in interior decorating and one that I thoroughly approve of. Pick up any current home magazine or decorating book and you’ll see walls in homes, restaurants, hotels, bars, even shops, covered with a seemingly random arrangement of art. That’s the French hang, so called because it originated hundreds of years ago in the cafes of Paris, where struggling artists would trade small artworks in exchange for food and absinthe. All very Moulin Rouge.
Nothing gives an interior greater personality than art, and the French hang is the most expressive form of all. It’s a style I’ve always adopted at home, but I admit I’m living of necessity in my new apartment with a tightly edited version of my previous art wall that featured more than 60 watercolours, drawings, photos and sculptures. Everything from a much-loved David Bromley to Indian masks and childhood snaps. I love everything about my new place except its lack of wall space.
Stylist and author Megan Morton’s new book It’s Beautiful Here (Thames & Hudson, $59.95) is full of great examples of the French hang, but it was actually in one of her previous books – Things I Love – that she offered succinct advice.
Start with at least five artworks (any less lacks substance), decide at the outset if you’re going to theme or mix things up (like Megan, I opt for mixing every time) and hang them closely together. They need to feel connected. I would add the importance of laying out the artworks on the floor prior to hanging them, and choosing one or two that’ll be the focal point of the hang. Think of them as the eyes on the face.
Melbourne-based David Flack is one of the most innovative interior designers working in Australia today and no stranger to an art wall. “I love a French hang,” he enthuses. “There’s something unpretentious and effortless about it. You can combine all mediums and all shapes and sizes. It takes a little bit of skill to get it right – the best way is to lay it all out on the ground first and just play. There are no rules, it’s really just a balance of light, shape and colour.” Happy hanging.
GROUP EFFORT (clockwise from above) Inspired hangs from Dutch blog Gravity Home; photographer Birgitta Wolfgang Drejer; Halcyon House by Anna Spiro.