‘Hue’ do you do it?
The Art of Choosing Color
By HannaH Crowell, Exhibition Designer Color is a distinct element in works of art, and has been especially prominent in recent exhibitions at The Mint Museum. Whether it was the sunset palette of Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood & His Contemporaries at Mint Museum Randolph or the spectrum of colors in the exhibition In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art at Mint Museum Uptown, our gallery walls are filled with palettes of color.
As the exhibition designer, I think a lot about the gallery walls. Gallery walls are not only the architecture that hold the works of art, they create an atmosphere that moves the visitor through the galleries. The right paint color, even a neutral, can transform a gallery into a world of its own.When the Mint decided to embark on a reinstallation of the American collections, what better way to bring new life to these galleries than with color. Working with Jonathan Stuhlman, PhD, Senior Curator of American Art, the exhibition team selected feature walls to provide pops of color that help to guide the visitor through galleries rather than choosing to paint the entire gallery space. When selecting paint colors for gallery walls, we consider the physical space, the lighting, the visitor’s path, and most importantly, the art. Each work of art, like a character in a play, has its own story told through the composition of the work, the medium the artist chose, when and where it was painted, the frame, and of course, the color palette.
With my trusty Benjamin Moore paint deck, I selected a color that would turn the volume up on each work of art’s story. A rich purple wall sends the delicate petals swirling off the golden stems of Kehinde Wiley’s Philip the Fair into full bloom against its surrounding golden tones.
A deep wine color, aptly named Old Claret, helps the rich warm florals pop at the party in Julius LeBlanc Stewart’s Five O’Clock Tea.
Picking a color to be the backdrop for a painting’s story cannot disrupt what it has to say. It needs to complement the person, party, and scene. Next time you stand within the walls of the galleries, take a moment to look around and find your favorite color.