If you’re looking to use art to personalize your home, it helps to start by asking yourself a simple question: What kind of aesthetic do I want to convey? The living room is the best place to begin, since its the most public showpiece of your private space, and it affords many opportunities to make an impression. Here are four collections across a quartet of overarching aesthetics that should help anyone find the perfect art to make your home into an unforgettable setting. (Pro tip: feel free to mix and match.)
When it comes to art décor, there’s Minimalism, the powerfully spare postwar art movement associated with sculptors like Donald Judd and Dan Flavin and painters like Agnes Martin, and Frank Stella—and then there’s small-‘m’ minimalism, which shares the pared-down aesthetic of the movement but with the freedom to range freely across time periods, genres, and, yes, even a bit of figuration here or there. This collection is devoted to people who like their environments to be precise, measured, and zen-like, with plenty of empty spaces to fill with contemplation.
The yin to minimalism’s yang, the Maximalist sensibility wants more, more, more—more color, more vitality, more spectacle, more guts. Shining surfaces, erotic or otherwise flared bodies, dramatic sculptures, and other hear-me-roar elements are the keys to success with this aesthetic. When done right, it can be disarmingly potent, even for those who are typically more reserved. Think Versace, think Las Vegas, think Schnabel. Maybe you want just a little dose to liven things up—or, hey, you could just go all in. This collection is all about bravado.
Go to your edgiest local museum and look at the art magazines in the gift store. Who reads all these fashion-forward glossy seductions? You do: the insider. You’re a person who follows the vanguard of art, and who’s an avid fan of the latest trailblazers long before the rest of the world hears about them—but you also know the most elegant, on-trend pieces from prevoius eras, and where to find them. At the same time, insiders have a nose for deals, so you tend to snap up the coolest editions or other low-buy-in pieces by your favorite names before they get out-of-reach famous. This collection is for you (and the rest of us who wish we could be like you, but don’t have the time or dedication).
Trends come and go, but the classics will look great no matter what it says on the calendar—particularly if displayed tastefully, unpretentiously, and ideally within a mix of old and new. The beautiful thing about art, however, is that as time marches on, older vanguards become absorbed into the canon, to the extent that categories like early conceptualism, Arte Povera, and other previous avant-gardes are now in the breadbasket of the traditionalist. This collection can provide the kinds of aesthetic anchors that give a room depth, and gravitas.