Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design

11/14/2012

Salon-Style Display and Growing Public Opinion

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Art critics (really, critics of all sorts) often worry about the democratization of opinion because of Tumblogs, blogs, vlogs, or logs of any kind. The advent of technology has really burst open a dam of public opinion that makes it more difficult for critics to make themselves heard over the din, but I was surprised to find that the Digital Age wasn't the original culprit, but the hot interior design trend of frame clustering.


Frame clustering, you say? Yes. 

Source: housetohome.co.uk via Zesty on Pinterest.
Frame clusters, or the more accurate term, salon-style hanging means filling a wall with framed works of art. We often see such interior design treatment in lofts or other such fancy places whenever we take virtual tours of apartments. But it's origins go way back to 17th century France when the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculptured mounted semi-public exhibitions showcasing the work of recent graduates. To fit all the graduates' work, the school would hang their work one atop the other and side by side, producing the hot trend we know today. Their works were displayed at the Salon Carre, a room at the Louvre. 

he Salon of 1699, not yet open to the public, and not yet taking place in the Salon Carré, engraving by A. Hadamart, Bibliothèque nationale de France, via SFMoMA blog.
The rest, Anna Hoffman explains
In 1737, the Academy opened the exhibit up to the public. This had two significant results: not only was this a place where the social classes mingled in considerable quantity and proximity, but now the culturally important act of having an opinion was open to the rabble. And the rabble made themselves heard, often through the publication of pamphlets where members of the audience would record their thoughts on the event, picture by picture (pamphlets were huge in 18th-century France, a cheap and accessible mode of mass-communication, kind of akin to blogging). Suddenly, art was being consumed - not purchased, but visually and culturally consumed - by a different audience, one that was not bound by etiquette or friendship or tradition to the royal artistic agenda.
Enlightening isn't it? Who knew that what we take for granted as a hot interior design trend was once a catalyst for public opinion? I'll never look at frame clusters the same way again. 

More details (including source lists) over at Apartment Therapy.


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