Do you think monochrome art is pretentious and inaccessible? Think again. Monochrome art might literally mean art made in one color, but it is far from dull. Buying a monochrome piece is a great way to start an art collection: it can lend itself easily to any space and add a touch of serenity or character, making it a perfect investment. The Artling’s guide to monochrome art will help you find the best match to add a touch of subtle beauty to your home or office space.
A monochrome artwork is one that is typically composed of black and white, moving away from dynamic colors such as red, blue, or yellow. It is thought to be a symbol of purity as it showcases the power of a single hue, allowing it to stand on its own against any wall and transform the atmosphere of any room.
In the twentieth century, monochrome art is most closely associated with art movements known as Abstract and Minimalism. Minimalism emerged in the late 1950s, as a reaction to the Abstract Expressionist movement. Think Jackson Pollock splashing splatters of paint over entire giant canvases. By contrast, Minimalists like Piet Mondrian, Dan Flavin or Donald Judd boiled their art down to simple forms, humble materials, and uncomplicated composition in a bid to remove any sense of personal expression from their work.
Today, monochrome art encompasses many different forms – painting, photography, and even sculpture. It can be made in one color or a variation of shades from the same hue (in other words, making the same color lighter or darker) and by extension, in black and white.
Monochrome art is well-loved for its ability to draw focus to the subject of an artwork due to its understated simplicity whether it is an abstract figuration, a landscape, or a minimal representation of an object. By limiting one’s palette, artists are able to place emphasis on other aspects of an artwork apart from its colors, which, in turn, leads to a variety of pieces that collectors can choose from.
Monochrome art could be a good starting point for collectors as it opens your eyes to a world of detail around you, and, with their simplicity, these artworks could certainly help you understand what you truly value in a work of art.
The power of monochrome art, really, is that it can take on so many different meanings, making it incredibly versatile. With its wide range of styles, you can see variations in texture and tone if you look closely and find something special within it that speaks to you. It is this versatility found in monochrome art pieces that commands attention at commercial galleries no matter what form it takes. Despite these restrictions on color, it is clear that there is a realm of possibilities to be explored when it comes to monochrome art.
There are as many ways to display monochrome art as there are types of monochrome art.
You could choose one statement piece, small or large, to be the focal point of your space. A large piece like “Expanse”, an acrylic on canvas painting by Augusto “Gus” Albor, would work great on its own in any living room. Or you could show off the exquisite craftsmanship of Lynne R Meade’s “Pierced Orb” at the center of a large table for example.
How about trying an Instagram-worthy “salon-style” hang? This could allow you to assemble a curated display of monochrome-only pieces. You can mix and match small and larger works, choose from the same artist or several – the choice is yours. For practical tips on how to execute this effectively, read our handy guide on How To Create The Perfect 'Salon-Style' Hang.
Finally, you might choose to collect monochrome art in one specific colour. To make your selection exciting, think about playing with different textures to avoid your monochrome selection becoming too monotonous – for example, drawings, paintings, photography, etc.
With the selection of artworks from which to choose, the task of collecting monochrome art can seem daunting, especially for first-timers. You may find yourself thinking about whether a piece of art is “good” and asking yourself if you’ve made the right decision. All in all, it is important to note that art is subjective and what matters is knowing you will enjoy looking at it every day.
While the process of selecting artworks is usually intuitive, there are some factors that might be useful to think about when starting your monochrome art collection. These include your budget, the type of space you want to decorate, and the style of artworks you are drawn to. Once you have established these points, you can consider the finer details such as how to display them in your space and how large or small the artworks should be.
Depending on what you need, there are many ways to go about collecting monochrome art. Say you already have a collection of artworks but are looking for something monochrome, you might look out for the ones that can complement your existing collection. If you are just starting out and developing your taste, “good art” may simply be the one that stands out to you amongst the others. However, the same rules apply: go with your gut, and it will lead you to the right match!
Monochrome art, like other styles such as pop art, are available in a range of prices, each dependent on the medium (e.g. canvas, paper, wood) and the artist’s technical skill (e.g. emerging artists are usually still honing their craft and the work of established artists will have a higher selling price). You will be sure to find something within your budget as long as you define it clearly – putting those parameters in place, you can search for artworks as low as $100 or up to $10,000 and more.
It is also important to consider the type of space you are intending to decorate whether it is your living room or your home office. You may even have some ideas about how your monochrome piece should look like – for example, are you looking for an artwork that is more meditative, or a piece that is striking and draws your eye to the interior of the space? Having these thoughts in mind while you browse will provide a useful frame of reference when narrowing down your options.
Monochrome art is one of the most foolproof ways to beautify an otherwise plain room. While there is certainly a preconception that monochromatic artworks are “dull”, they are far from it. Instead, they are capable of creating a dramatic effect without being too overbearing as opposed to colored artworks. Monochrome art allows you to retain a serene atmosphere in your space while orchestrating a sense of harmony with other elements such as furniture and lighting.
The key to a good monochrome artwork could depend on how essential it feels when putting your whole space together. In this case, size is an aspect to take note of when you are making your choice. Larger artworks create the illusion of a bigger space when displayed as a statement piece in the middle of a room. Smaller artworks, when arranged on separate walls, evoke a cozier feeling – you can also mix and match different sizes of artworks to suit the type of mood or atmosphere you are looking for.
Others factors you might want to consider when choosing your artworks are texture and pattern. Texture is created using techniques such as impasto, where paint is laid thickly onto a surface to reveal brush strokes or palette knife marks to give a three-dimensional effect. On the other hand, repetitive patterns can blend into walls to draw attention to your furniture and other elements of your interiors that you wish to highlight.
As you begin to build your art collection, you will find that it requires upkeep to ensure that these pieces will last for a long time in your space. Monochrome art pieces are just like any other artworks in that you should store and clean them well to protect them from wear and tear. No matter the type of monochrome artwork you are purchasing, it will be useful to consider the place where you might display it and how you intend to maintain its condition from the very first day it becomes yours. One example includes keeping it away from direct sunlight and overly damp conditions. As artworks are sensitive to temperature, these changes may cause the canvas to loosen or the paint to crack.
Based on how you display them, monochrome art is able to interact with the elements of your home or office in unique ways. With many options for framing and illuminating your artwork, the modern appeal of monochrome artworks lends them an affinity for most interiors no matter the size or look of your space.
While many artworks already come framed, others will require you to purchase one separately so it is important to account for this in your budget. It will also be useful to consider the type of frame that would complement your artwork as well as ensure that it will match your interiors. Frames are available in a wide variety of sizes, patterns, and finishes – for monochrome artworks, it is advisable to go for a frame that is finished in black or white so as to bring attention to the piece rather than detract from it. You may also choose to go without a frame if you prefer a more seamless look.
Additionally, lighting is a great tool to further accentuate your artwork whether you are looking at existing fixtures or a new addition to your space such as a feature wall. The most common types of lighting used to illuminate artworks include ceiling-mounted lights, track lights, and wall washers. These are also common in many galleries and usually come in a minimal design, so they are sure to make an ideal pairing with your monochrome art collection.
When displaying monochrome art, it is also recommended that you check the placement of your artworks to ensure that they are at eye level. If you are displaying your pieces in an area with a high ceiling such as a double-volume space, you can aim for a slightly higher placement. This also applies if you are arranging your artworks above furniture. If you are working with a tighter space, you might be able to place your artworks lower – just be mindful that they are situated in your line of sight when you enter the space!
The key to collecting monochrome art is to enjoy the process – it is a great feeling to be able to connect with a piece and know you are just a few steps away from owning it. However, it is important to refrain from making hasty decisions even when you are very sure that you would like to make a purchase. Some common mistakes include buying artwork that looks “trendy”, meaning you may not be interested in it a few years down the road. Another tendency especially for first-timers could also be buying art simply for the sake of it – since the best art changes our perception of the world, why not change the way you look at your space with a unique monochrome artwork that you know you can appreciate?
When buying your first (or second!) piece of monochrome art, remember that above all, research is key. Don’t rush the process. Make sure you buy from an artist that is showing potential and consistency. Make sure that when you buy a piece, you have the right documentation. And finally, make sure that you think about where you want this piece to go, and how you will display and take care of it.
Find something you genuinely love and can see yourself living with for a long time. Sure, your tastes and your space might change, but good art will last forever.
We hope you enjoyed our collector's guide to buying monochrome art. If you wish to add a monochromatic art piece to your collection, you can browse our curated collection of monochrome artworks. If you need further assistance or have any specific requirements, do reach out to our expert art curators here.
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