Monday, April 27, 2009

Square Art

On a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I thought about painting sizes and shapes. In one of my favorite sections, impressionist art, I can't recall seeing many square canvases. And yet, especially over the past few years, I have seen literally hundreds of square paintings a year in my work with emerging artists. I personally gravitate towards square canvases because I like the balance, and because a square canvas can fit in virtually any space.

This painting by Dusty Griffith is one of my all time favorites (interior design by Suzanne Kasler). The square shape works perfectly in the space above the mantel. I recently visited the house of an acquaintance for the first time, and she had the most beautiful Dusty Griffith painting I had ever seen. It was great to see one of his works in person in an actual home, as I had only seen his work in the Lowe Gallery and in magazine photos.


This painting, in a McGuire furniture ad, has always been a favorite. It has all the hallmarks of an Elliott Puckette painting - the calligraphic swirls are a favorite motif of mine (take one look at my header and you will see the inspiration!). I love the look of a square painting above a sofa.


A square contemporary painting is the perfect balance for this traditional dining room by Gerrie Bremermann. Joni from Cote de Texas pointed out the Bremermann has been using contemporary art much more frequently in her designs. The look of contemporary art in a traditional setting is one of my favorite looks.


This dining room, from an Atlanta real estate listing, features a beautiful square painting by artist Haidee Becker. I always appreciate the look of contemporary art in a dining room, and Becker's art works beautifully with its rich colors and balance between the contemporary style and traditional subject matter. Becker is represented by a great gallery in Atlanta, Timothy Tew.


This image is from a House Beautiful from several years ago, and the painting had such an impact on me that I actually visited the gallery that represents the artist on a recent trip to Washington D.C. All of the works by this artist were square, interestingly; it was a good juxtaposition with the circle theme of her art. The artist is Mira Hecht, and the gallery is the Ralls Collection in Georgetown. When looking up the website for this post, I saw that Hecht has an upcoming show that begins May 7. The show runs through early July, and since I have a trip to D.C. planned in late June, I will be sure to see the latest and greatest by this talented artists (it looks like some of her new works are not sqaure!). Interior design by Jodi Macklin.


I don't think that I have ever posted a picture from Metropolitan Home, as much as I admire the work in this magazine. However, this painting really captured my eye with its beautiful shapes and colors. I also love the painting light that is wired into the wall, and the sconces that flank the painting. In my next home, I would like to plan the perfect locations for art and have the walls wired for painting lights. I think that great lighting really enhances art and makes it a focal point in a home. Image via House of Turquoise.

FR Western Interiors AugSept08_willwick_kd

This painting translated as square to me when I saved it, but now I am not so sure. It makes a beautiful and dramatic statement, whatever shape it is! This image has an element that I admire in a room: neutral upholstery, with the color from the art. Via Western Interiors, August-September 2008.


I like how the square painting is balanced out with smaller pieces of art. Via Domino magazine.


I have no idea where this image came from (I think the picture is from the 90s), butthe large dramatic square painting is truly the focal point of the room. I like how the pillows match the colors in the painting - true art aficionados would frown on this, but I think it is so pleasing!


What a lucky child to have exposure to great art from the cradle! Another situation where the art matches the decor - and it looks great.


I love this bold square painting above the fireplace - it defines the room. Interior design by the Wiseman Group.


I saved this picture both for the ethereal color scheme of the room and for the beautiful square painting above the fireplace. Image via Domino.


This is my favorite Amanda Talley paintings; it is the perfect shape and size (not to mention color) for the spot. This image appeared in the book Swedish Interiors; I would love to see the rest of the house! Her more recent paintings seem to be looser in style than this one.


Contemporary art in a bedroom always catches my eye, and the large square painting works beautifully in this bedroom with its tall ceilings and dramatic gray accent wall. I love how the pillows, the wall, and the art all have that great shade of gunmetal gray.


One of my favorite artists, Rana Rochat, frequently paints in a square format, especially for her smaller pieces that look good hung as a series.


This Jan Showers' project is a home in Dallas that was featured in Western Interiors October-November 2007. Showers chose to keep the room largely neutral, and brought in the colors through the art and accessories. This is another situation where the art translates as square to me, but I can't quite tell because of the angle of the shot (and perhaps because of the lens used).


I have quite a bit of square art in my own home. My favorite is this triptych (a piece of art that consists of three parts) by Atlanta artist Holly Golson Bryan.

As you can see, all of the square paintings that I have featured in this post are contemporary and abstract in style. I don't know if this is because the square format is more modern, and contemporary art is better suited to the square shape, or if it is because I do not gravitate to images of traditional art and didn't have any to feature in this post. I also see many, many pieces of traditional art in my work in the art world, and I occasionally see some traditional pieces that are square. However, I see this much less than the square contemporary pieces. I wonder whether the dominance of the square format is waning a bit; this year at the art markets that I have attended, there have been far fewer square pieces than in the past. I know in my own house I have so many square pieces of art that I am purposely avoiding the square format unless a piece really speaks to me.

To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.

To follow my blog on facebook, click here.

To visit my online store, click here.


  1. I must say that I'm always attracted to square paintings. They do have some sort of balance that sits well with the eye and the soul and are really become the focal point of a room. Of course every example you've shown is focal point worthy. What a collection of fabulous art you've ammassed for this wonderful post.

  2. I'd never given it the slightest thought. You've given me another detail to digest and that's a good thing. I just did a home inventory; we have 4 square paintings, 2 each on either side of a big window. I think the 2 square ones look better there than one rectangle.

  3. this is something i truly have never thought about - but it is such a soothing shape. what a great collection of images. my favorite though, as always, is the first one by Kasler. what a gorgeous vignette. but its the chair that grabs me more than the art, i must confess!!!! loved this one.

  4. * Have ALWAYS been a fan of one huge, fabulous piece of artwork, compared to many smaller ones~~~ it just looks so "together"! Great selections for this blog!!! Thanks, Linda in AZ *

  5. i LOVE when pillows (or other accessories) match the art. pulls a room together in a lovely way, so let those art aficionados pooh-pooh- we'll have pretty art AND pretty rooms!

    also agree about wiring for picture lights- another nice touch, but only on a painting or two. if everything hanging is lit, it turns into some weird nightclub looking situation.

  6. Thank you for the comments, everyone, and for the insights! I think soothing is a good word to describe a square piece of art - everything seems to be balanced.

    M21, good point about being judicious in the use of lighting for art. It should probably be spaced well and really just used for the piece that is the focal point.

  7. All of the paintings you posted are beautiful, and work so well in the rooms where they're hung.

    I have a two square paintings, plus a third that's the center painting in a triptych.

    I hadn't thought about how the square shape appeals to the eye -- but after reading your post and thinking about my own square paintings, I would definitely agree. Maybe it's because the square shape is balanced and equal all the way around, so your eye doesn't wonder where to look??

    Patricia Gray wrote a post about abstract art that includes some square pieces. If you haven't seen it, you might want to check it out:


    Kelly @ DesignTies

  8. I loved Patricia's post - I have it down in my list of favorite posts in '09 (I keep a running list)!

  9. Your posts are always so great and well researched! I am in desperate need of some inexpensive art right now for a client (she's young so it's about the look right now), I wish I could use some of the artists you've shown.

  10. Just a GREAT post! Thanks for all your hard work and insight. I have a whole new appreciation for the square painting and the modern art in a traditional setting. I realize I have two excellent locations that would benefit from a square canvas....now I just have to find the RIGHT pieces. You are right up there rubbing shoulders with Cote de Texas when it comes to timely,informative and well-researched topics!! Absolutely LOVE it!!!


  11. The square format is my favorite shape to paint! I love the piece you posted from a house that Gerrie Bremermann designed in Covington, LA. I painted that piece when I was angry--although it doesn't show it. The title of it is called "Kiss a Frog" A 48" square is the perfect size for so many spaces and being square creates balance. Thank you featuring my work in your interesting post. I am going to keep this post to show clients how the square can be very versatile.
    Thank You--Amanda Talley

  12. As always, a great post. I think it's so refreshing to see all the square images. I've seen so many round mirrors everywhere, I like the contrast.

  13. Many of my painings are created in square format. I love this post!You have captured perfectly how a work of art completes the design of any room. Better yet design the rooms around the art!

  14. I love the square paintings and perhaps my favorite image is yours! Perhaps it is my love of all things symmetrical which makes me so drawn to the shape. Great collection of images- as always!

  15. Love this post! Square paintings are great, especially if you want the painting to be the focal point-very good art is a must if it's going to attract that much attention. Thanks!

  16. The depth of your image collection is amazing and I love this post. I too, hadn't considered square paintings as such but there they are in force. Interesting wake up call - thanks.

  17. What is the road of happiness?
    How can we achieve happiness?
    What is true happiness?
    What is the meaning of happiness?
    Is happiness is in the money?
    Is happiness good health and a healthy body?
    Is happiness having sex with love?
    Happiness is achieved by becoming the director or minister or famous?
    Mental explodes and the nerves a bit and can not tolerate
    I can not think
    I want to help
    I want to help
    I want to help
    I want to help

    I want to help
    Please, I want to help

  18. Thank you for your wonderful post. The art you share is exactly what I've been looking for....large square, contemporary in beautiful subtle colors of blue, aqua, green. You have also introduced me to some great artists that I've never heard of before. I am hoping to find a local artist in Houston that catches my eye but not just yet. If you know of any affordable artists to share that would be great....I've been looking around on etsy too.

  19. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    There are many sources of good, reasonably priced art. I like to visit artist markets, art strolls, or art fairs - often information on these types of events are posted in the local papers or on a community message board/newspaper/magazine type source online.

    Etsy and ebay do have many great artists, but ebay in particular also has lots of 'fake' art. Etsy has tons of great artists creating original art, but sometimes it is hard to find without spending hours and hours online.

    There are often galleries in town that focus on both established and emerging artists. The emerging artists tend to have much better price points. Another thing to know is that you can always ask for a discount from a gallery - in times like these, many gallery owners expect it.

    Finally, many art schools have fantastic work for sale by students. They can be professional art schools like SCAD or even local art schools. I have taken classes from an art school here in Atlanta, and there was some phenomenal talent there.

  20. Some lovely images - I am drawn to the squares as well - something about the balance and weight that is perfect. I am a big photography fan and always love the perfect frame of the square. Oddly, I am also drawn to long, narrow rectanlge pieces.

    Sorry I did not email you back as I meant to - and to say a huge congrats on the Carnegie Hall trip - what an amazing experience and accomplishment for your talented girl! Was the Met visit when you were there? you lucky duck - hope it was great!

    xo Terri

  21. I am usually drawn to square art in different sizes. As others have said, it creates balance and can draw a focal point. Thanks for your insight.

  22. Wonderful, original post! I loooove the square format, too!

  23. This is just a fantastic idea - I love symmetry in decor, but I hadn't thought much about the shape of paintings (as opposed to what's on them). An eye opener!
    Thanks for stopping by Sanity Fair! I'm really enjoying your blog!

  24. Your wish to see the house that the Amanda Talley painting is in may be able to come true. I think that house was featured on the cover of House Beautiful a few years ago. I remember because of all the beautiful Swedish antiques that they have and their wonderful use of contemporary art in other places in their home. If I can find the article I'll send it along.

    Tricia - Avolli

  25. What a great post. I love the dining room and now I know how I'm going to address the blank wall above my sideboard.
    Thank you for the inspiration!
    Nola @ The Bloom Girls

  26. Wonderful Post. What I find most interesting is that the shape of the canvas is just as important as what is on it.


  27. I would have to agree that the square paintings do have an edge - they seem to really sharpen the rooms and give them a contemporary feel. I had not really thought about this and sometimes what is so obvious is right there to see and we don't notice it. Great rooms, paintings and post. xv

  28. I love all of the square paintings in this fantastic blog entry...some of my favorites were the Dusty Griffith and the beautiful yellow painting in the neutral room from Western Interiors.

    Also, I LOVE your Holly Golson Bryan's! Gorgeous triptych!

  29. A great post and your blog is wonderful as well. I am so happy to have discovered it today!

  30. So wonderful to have a beautiful piece of contempory art in a nursery.
    I share your fondness for square works, and I adore that Amanda Talley!

  31. Great entry! It is just so cool to see how you can achieve different looks and feels to a room keeping the perfect shape of a square shape. As you said in your entry the square shape always work and you can definitely see that in the images that you selected for your entry.

  32. Wow, beautiful photos. I just stumbled across your blog and I'm getting house envy over some of those pictures.

  33. Hey I really like your blog…!
    I am regular visitor of your blog..
    Sir i would request to write more about green architecture...
    architects as architecural know more about Green eco architectural designs are reusable materials, green designs etc.. ..… Create an Eco friendly Green design… Save Earth.. interior designers Bangalore as of natural materials interior designers in Bangalore with almost modern concepts architects bangalore

  34. wow
    i like all those designs
    i am going crazy about that
    i want to desperately create 1 room like that in my house
    Teak Planters & Storage


Thank you for your comments! I strive to make my blog positive in tone, and appreciate the same courtesy when comments are made. Thank you!


Related Posts with Thumbnails