Salon Hanging and Creating a Fantastic Cluster Wall
Movie posters don’t just come in ‘large’. Over the last hundred years or so, film studios have used a wide range of formats, many of them actually quite small. From the U.S. ‘insert’, and Australian ‘daybill’, to the ‘8 x 10’ and ‘11 x 14’ lobby cards, there are smaller formats to suit any wall.
Whilst a smaller piece can provide a focal point on its own, grouped together, they can also make a real impact.
This is commonly called ‘salon hanging’ or a 'cluster wall’. In this blog post, we take a closer look at this style of hanging.
From 1725, the art exhibitions of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture were held in the ‘Salon Carré’, a large room within the Louvre Museum in Paris.
View of the Grand Salon Carré in the Louvre, Giuseppe Castiglione (1829–1908), Musée du Louvre
The Academy’s increasing resistance to more modern art led to an alternate exhibition, known as the ‘Salons des Refusés’ (for ‘rejects’) being held from 1874 to 1876.
By 1884, George Seurat and Paul Signac had established the ‘Salon des Indépendents’ for their neo-impressionist movement, and, this was followed in 1903 by the ‘Salon d’Automne’ (the Autumn Salon) for more innovative and challenging art forms.
The Autumn Salon continues to this day, and the term, ‘salon’ is now used as a generic term for a mixed exhibition or grouping of artworks. You will also see the results termed a ‘cluster wall’.
Your Cluster Wall - Themes
Whether it be family photos, original artworks or original movie posters, the salon hanging style can give a high impact, unique and stylish look to any room.
To look its best, it does need careful planning, but this should not put you off using it to create a really unique feature in your home.
Your first decision is what to include within your composition.
The combinations are endless and limited only by your imagination. Your cluster wall should make a really personal statement about you, and your home.
In the context of movie posters, themes to consider might be:
- Film Genres : Fans of Disney, horror, science fiction, film-noir or the rom-com can choose pieces from a range of films within their chosen genre to create a really interesting taking point.
- Films of our lives : Films are such a large part of our culture and we all have ‘landmark’ films throughout our lives. Perhaps the first film you remember seeing, the films that you (or your own children) loved as a child, or the films that you watched whilst courting your partner. A cluster wall of your own film history can be a really unique and personal addition to your home.
- Specific actor, actress or director : Some actors, actresses and directors are iconic in their own right. Do you have a favourite?
- Single film, or film series : Are you a bag fan of a film series?
- Whatever grabs you aesthetically : some of our favourite pieces are for films we hadn’t previously seen. Perhaps you have a fantastic collection of images that are just beautiful in their own right!
Whatever theme you choose, gather your pieces together. You can then consider how you will organise your composition.
Whilst rules are there to be broken, starting with a layout in mind will help.
Geometric - If your pieces of art are all exactly the same size and are similar in nature, then a geometrically precise layout can bring them all together.
Precise and regular gaps make the sum of the parts ‘a whole’, speaking as one overall art work.
This layout requires extremely careful planning and execution. The eye will be immediately drawn to any Irregular gaps between artworks, immediately undermining the impact of the composition.
Aligned - Where different size artworks are being used, regular spacing, following geometric lines, can create a really pleasing effect.
Focus on ensuring that the gaps between each art work are the same size. Arrange pieces so that lines are created between them, radiating from a central ‘anchor’ artwork. The eye will follow these lines out and around your cluster wall.
(Apparently) Random - This layout is actually anything other than random. If you look at the ‘aligned’ image above, we have used a similar group of pieces below, but have ‘exploded’ them out, creating different gaps between artworks, but, it is carefully planned.
The eye is still drawn to the central ‘anchor’ artwork, but, the eye is no longer led along geometric lines. The eye now moves around the composition, first focusing on the larger artworks then moving out to the smaller items.
Whilst the end result should give the impression that the artworks have just been placed ‘care free’ upon the wall, the only way to get some harmony is to plan it really carefully beforehand.
Planning your composition
Working with a wide expanse of wall can be daunting. The most important piece is your first – your anchor artwork.
As in the photo below, this will be hung around 145cm from the floor (see this previous blog post). When working on your layout, this piece remains static and you work outwards from it.
When working above a piece of furniture, your composition needs to work in harmony with it. Your anchor artwork is placed to ensure this. Again, when designing your layout, it does not move. You work upwards and outwards from it.
A couple of original movie poster examples
In the photo below, we are working above a large sofa and our theme is based on a movie poster format – the lobby card.
Having chosen a number of our favourite cards, we created a vertical anchor line of pieces framed with white matting. This runs up from the centre of the sofa. We then worked outwards from the central spine, trying to balance the colours on either side.
In the photo below, we have an entire blank wall and our theme is Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. We’ve selected a wide range of poster sizes, from a British quad (30 x 40 inches) to a number of lobby cards (8 x 10 inches). We’ve even included an Australian Daybill (13 x 26 inches) from the sequel, ‘2010’.
Having anchored a lobby card at around 145cm from the floor, we worked outwards creating an (apparently) random composition, that we hope works well, with a ‘left to right’ sweep.
Before you Start – Some Tips
- Put down the drill or hammer. Focus on planning.
- Measure the space on your wall that you want to fill.
- Mark this out on the floor.
- Have a layout in mind – geometric, aligned or random.
- Lay out all of your pieces on the floor and play with them there, setting out your anchor piece and then moving the others around it to find layouts that you are happy with.
- If you have a phone handy, take photos of each good layout. (Once you start moving pieces around, you will forget how things were.)
- When you have chosen a layout, consider using craft paper to create paper templates of each of your artworks. You can then blu-tac these to the wall and try out your composition ‘for real’.
- Mull it over for a while and make sure you are really happy with it - once you start drilling or hammering, there is no way back – your wall has holes in it.
- Once you do start, measure, measure and measure again. Precision is everything.
- Before you drill, don’t forget to check your wall for hidden electrical cables or pipes!
Finally, if you aren’t confident with a calculator, drill, pipe detector, spirit level and measuring tape, get an ‘odd job’ or competent DIY’er to do it for you. It just isn’t worth the hassle!
We hope that we’ve inspired you to consider salon hanging in your home. Why not add a favourite movie poster or two to your cluster wall? Please do take a look at our fantastic posters.
We hope you find something that you love.
Adam and the Art of the Movies team.