Art Lighting: A Guide

With art of all different shapes and sizes out there, it’s no wonder that there’s dozens of different ways to best accent your particular piece in stylized art lighting. Art requires its own personal lighting application with the right colors and angles to be implemented in order to help accentuate them to their fullest extent. Needless to say, art and lighting make the perfect combination. Check out our handy guide below to make your artwork a truly dazzling experience!


Track lighting at play in the National Museum in Warsaw (Img: Wikipedia)

Track Lighting

Modernity takes center-stage in the design of track lighting: uniformly placed lighting units are set up on a repeated track device, which are then powered by electrical conduits. It’s essentially a system of spotlights all mounted in a row, which shines at its brightest when utilized on walls and ceilings. While they’re generally the best choice for large-scale artwork, on the downside the lights positioned on the track all operate as a single unit—meaning you can’t turn a few off and while leaving the rest on. Moreover, you will not be able to adjust their individual dimness but rather only be able to adjust them as a whole.

A typical recessed light with a compact fluorescent bulb

Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting (also referred to as “downlighting” or “canlighting”) involves lights being installed in a depressed space within a ceiling. This type of lighting is common throughout stores, warehouses, and homes. A major convenience of recessed lighting is that they do not get in the way of your daily routine due to being placed within a ceiling crevice. Furthermore, they hardly take up any space at all. However this does mean that they present an inconvenience when attempting to remove them. This type of lighting for art is not optimal, as the direction that the light shines is fixed—making for absolutely zero adjustability to tailor to individual pieces.


An over-the-frame picture light done in modern style

Frame Lighting

Frame lighting generally is the all-in-one solution to individualized art lighting: the light is placed directly upon a painting’s frame, or other mounted as close as possible to the piece which it illuminates. This provides an illumination that’s perfectly tailored to a given piece of artwork—the light essentially becomes a part of the display.The only downside is that a single piece can only be equipped by a single frame light, as multiple lights would overlap and provide an uneven illumination. Higher-end art lights, however, come multiple sizes to best suit artwork of any length. As the light is so close to the art, however, when utilizing a frame light you should be cautious of lights with high heat: incandescent and halogen bulbs run hot, so cooler solutions such as LED lighting bulbs are the way to go.

10th Jul 2015 Jeremy Young

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