ON THE FACE OF IT, THE ACT OF HANGING A PICTURE ISN'T TREMENDOUSLY DIFFICULT: hammer, nail, bam bam, done. Even if you take the slightly more advanced step of using a stud finder, it’s the sort of task that might seem like it should require at most an instructional pamphlet, rather than an entire 150-page book. But nuance is important; there’s a fairly vast gulf between doing it and doing it well, and it’s that gulf that Jay Sacher and Suzanne LaGasa are hoping to help readers bridge in “How to Hang a Picture and Other Essential Lessons for a Stylish Home.”
It’s immediately clear that a lot of thought went into this book despite its deceptively simple title – the first page quotes both Tom Wolfe and Charles Baudelaire en route to explaining its raison d’etre. Basically, the skill and consideration with which art is displayed influences the impact it has on its surroundings, and thus on the people viewing it. Yes, the mechanics of hanging a painting might be simple, but where should it go? How high off the ground, or far away from the window? What if it’s unframed? How much light does it need? These are the topics covered in the book’s four main sections: aesthetic planning, actually doing the physical hanging, framing and lighting/shelving.
Each section is tackled in step-by-step depth with user-friendly directions and illustrations: “Planning” includes a color wheel, “Hanging” has cross-sections of different types of walls and a guide to fasteners, “Framing” shows the difference between American, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish corners, and so on. Plus, the entire book is laced with engaging watercolor illustrations (also the province of author Sacher) of its principles in action, via photos taken in real spaces around the world – from museums and galleries to living rooms and kitchens – visually underscoring the point that a homeowner’s care in displaying art pays immensely rewarding aesthetic dividends.