How to Hang Level Artwork

Tweet   Learn how to hang level artwork perfectly with this Easy Tip* Now you can hang level artwork yourself! Visit our Design Help & Inspiration section for more DIY tricks like this and inspiring design direct from our talented staff!

  Learn how to hang level artwork perfectly with this Easy Tip* How to Hang Level Artwork Now you can hang level artwork yourself! Visit our Design Help & Inspiration section for more DIY tricks like this and inspiring design direct from our talented staff!

N. Korea Upset Over Missed Sale

Tweet           It’s no surprise to Texas Governor Rick Perry or Gallery Direct that North Korean leaders have it out for our hometown, Austin, Texas.  At Gallery Direct, our sales go quickly and we understand that … Read More

          It's no surprise to Texas Governor Rick Perry or Gallery Direct that North Korean leaders have it out for our hometown, Austin, Texas.  At Gallery Direct, our sales go quickly and we understand that Kim Jong Un is upset that he missed out on our 75% print your photo on canvas sale last weekend and is now going to take it out on the entire city. Sorry Kim Jong Un, the sale ends at midnight, you'll have to wait until the next one. Follow me on Google+

Happy Birthday, Maria Sibylla Merian!

Tweet Today, Google commemorated what would have been Maria Sibylla Merian’s 366th birthday with a Google Doodle. Merian, a seventeenth-century naturalist and artist, has been credited with making important contributions to the fields of botany and entomology. Born in Frankfurt in 1647, … Read More

Today, Google commemorated what would have been Maria Sibylla Merian's 366th birthday with a Google Doodle. Merian, a seventeenth-century naturalist and artist, has been credited with making important contributions to the fields of botany and entomology.

Born in Frankfurt in 1647, Merian, the daughter of an engraver, was one of the few women of her time to be so deeply involved and successful in a scientific profession. In addition to being a pioneer in her field, she also broke new ground when she undertook a dangerous research expedition to South America with her daughter without a male companion, which was practically inconceivable at the time. Her talent as an illustrator is matched only by her insight into the world of insects and plant life, as evidenced by the hundreds of plates and drawings of the nature and its inhabitants that she produced.

Between the years 1675 and 1680, Merian published her first book, The New Book of Flowers, in three volumes. The illustrations, such as the one above, are considered to be landmarks in the development of botanical printing and illustration.

Merian also undertook a serious study of the development of caterpillars, and in 1679, published The Caterpillars' Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food. One of the first naturalists to observe insects directly in nature, her work on caterpillars is considered to be a major advance in entomology.

Many of her botanical prints, such as Two Simple Narcissicontain glimpses of her interest in caterpillars and butterflies, demonstrating how she combined her two passions in her work. Merian was both an insightful scientific mind and an incredibly proficient artist. It is rare indeed that someone is endowed with one of these remarkable talents; that she possessed both is extraordinary. By capturing every detail of a flower or an insect, Merian became known for her ability to both truthfully represent a subject in a scientific way and produce a beautiful piece of art. This is wonderfully exemplified in prints such as Dutch Rose.

We here at Gallery Direct are proud to print a handful of Merian prints for your home or office. Whether you're looking for roses that will never lose their bloom or a simple hyacinth, Merian's illustrations are not only beautiful, but also represent an important art historical moment - the meeting of science and aesthetics.

Spring is here and we just released our Spring Art Trends for 2013! Today, Gallery Direct announced that bold colors, geometric shapes and transparent inspired decor are some of the top art trends for spring 2013. We caught up with Nick Nichols, the Director of Design at Gallery Direct. Nick says, “Bold colors are everywhere this spring. The use of digital enhancement programs and high-definition mediums has really ramped up in every aspect of our visual lives, making our eyes more attuned to vibrant images. As a result, interior designers are choosing brighter, more saturated hues—and we’re seeing consumers pick up on that trend in their own homes. Bright wall décor is an easy way to modernize any space.” 2013 Spring Art Trends from Gallery Direct Embrace Emerald: This jewel toned Pantone Color of the Year adds sophisticated energy that creates balanced depth in your space--and it’s perfect for spring time. Choose an emerald hued statement piece printed on your favorite material with an elegant frame for a classic look.  Browse Gallery Direct’s Emerald Collection here.           Go Bold with Botanicals: Flowery fine art is always in season.  Placing a few vibrantly-colored botanical canvas prints in a room can make your space feel vivacious and harmonious: bright primary colors add a pop to the room while the flowers keep it rooted in calm tranquility. View Gallery Direct’s Botanical collection here.        
Get Creative with Transparency and Reflection: Art printed on transparent or reflective materials like glass, acrylic, aluminum or mirror can create an eye-catching impact.  This is a sophisticated way to incorporate gloss and shine into your décor, and allows you the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.  Learn more about unique printing materials for artwork here.
                                                                                                                                                Grow with Plant-Inspired Patterns: Patterns inspired by plants are making an impact this spring. For example, Sia Aryai’s Zen Series has been very popular with interior designers this season. The organic lines of nature soften the pattern, lending your space a refreshing and relaxing touch.         Update Your Geometrics: The trend of using geometric shapes and patterns in design is still popular. Update this trend for spring by adding stripes.  The stripes will complement the geometric shapes for the perfect sophisticated-yet-bold combination—don’t be afraid of mixing patterns!  Browse Gallery Direct’s Geometric Artwork here.
    Got a Spring trend to tell us about?  Post a comment below!

Wartime Damage and Destruction

Tweet If you’ve seen any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that I’m an art history afficianado. You may not know, however, that my primary area of interest is a bit peculiar. I am interested in art crimes and … Read More

If you've seen any of my previous blog posts, you'll know that I'm an art history afficianado. You may not know, however, that my primary area of interest is a bit peculiar. I am interested in art crimes and cultural heritage protection. In fact, I will be pursuing a post-graduate degree in the field this upcoming summer - but more on that another time. My first real training in the field was last year when I participated in the Provenance Research Training Program in Magdeburg, Germany, which is a course dedicated to the theories and methodologies involved in studying art that was destroyed, stolen, looted, or otherwise obtained by the Nazi regime during World War II. I could go on and on about the topic, and I'm sure you'll hear more about it in future blog posts, but today, I want to focus on two paintings that I came across in Gallery Direct's growing collection of modern masters. Namely, Gustav Klimt's Garden Path with Chickens and Hygieia (a detail from his painting Medicine). Along with thousands of other works of art, these two paintings were destroyed by Axis forces during the war. By all accounts, Hygieia is an exemplar of Klimt's so-called Golden Phase, which prominently featured stunning figures, usually women, rendered in bold colors (the most well known example being The Kiss). Hygieia, a figure from Ancient Greek mythology, is the focal point of his painting Medicine, one of three paintings Klimt made for the University of Vienna. The goddess of health, well-being, and hygiene, she was the daughter of the god of medicine, Asclepius. Klimt depicts her holding in one hand the cup of Lethe, symbolizing one of the rivers of the underworld, and in the other, the Asclepian snake, which symbolized healing and the renewal of health. By juxtaposing a symbol of death and a symbol of life, Klimt represents life and death not as too diametric opposites, but rather as two parts of a single, unified cycle. Klimt's use of mythological allegories in his paintings is one of the aspects of his work as a symbolist that are so unique. Along with the other two paintings commissioned to Klimt for the University of Vienna, Medicine was rejected as pornographic, and went on instead to be featured in the Tenth Exhibition of the Vienna Secession in 1901. After the exhibition, it was purchased by Klimt's friend and fellow Vienna Secession artist, Koloman Moser, and it eventually passed into the collection of a Jewish family. Sadly, the collection was seized in 1938 bythe Third Reich, as Jewish property was deemed to be the property of the German state. This was the case with thousands of families and millions of objects, many of which are still missing to this day. Garden Path with Chickens is not what one would consider a "typical" Klimt painting. Created in 1917, the colorful garden scene demonstrates that in addition to his groundbreaking subject matter and style, Klimt was also a precise and masterful technician of his craft. The detail of each individual flower and the considered blending of colors demonstrate how dedicated Klimt was to perfecting even the most minute and intricate aspects of his compositions. Garden Path was incorporated into the collection of Erich Lederer, which, along with many other works, including Medicine, was relocated to the Schloss Immendorf in Austria at the beginning of World War II, ostensibly for safekeeping. Throughout the war, countless objects, monuments, and landmarks were stolen, destroyed, or defaced, but even after the fall of the Third Reich, the damage continued. After the Nazi regime fell and SS troops were instructed to return to Germany, they left a path of destruction in their wake. One victim was the Schloss Immendorf, which was destroyed by a fire set by Nazi troops on their way out of Austria. All of the paintings within were completely lost, so all that remains of them today are the artist's preliminary sketches and photographs. That is, perhaps, what makes it so remarkable that we are able to have these two paintings at Gallery Direct, as we ensure that while the originals may be lost, and can surely never be replaced, the memory of the paintings and the horrific way in which they were lost endures.
Designers from all over the world work with Gallery Direct to transform homes and offices. We followed interior designer, Sarah Scott, as she helped a work from home mom choose the right art for her space, her style and her budget.   The challenge was to find harmony with Kiera's and her husband's conflicting styles. Watch this video to see how Sarah navigates these challenges and pulls the space together perfectly.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GCJOSWezFBs Have you faced a design challenge like this?  Let us know your design tips and tricks!

Star-Gazing with Sidney Hall

Tweet One of the great things about working with the merchandising team at Gallery Direct is that I have crawled and crept through every corner of our enormous digital collection. It is such great fun to discover all the amazing … Read More

One of the great things about working with the merchandising team at Gallery Direct is that I have crawled and crept through every corner of our enormous digital collection. It is such great fun to discover all the amazing images we have (that's everyone's idea of fun, right?). A few weeks ago, I came across yet another hidden gem in our historical holdings: a series of constellation engravings by nineteenth-century engraver Sidney Hall.  [caption id="attachment_3497" align="aligncenter" width="528"] "Virgo"[/caption] A couple months ago in my inaugural blog post, I revealed my quirky obsession with nineteenth-century maps. Apparently I'm not the only person with a penchant for geography, because our vintage maps section has since taken off. When these kinds of maps were growing in popularity, cartographers and engravers alike also turned their attention skywards, and began publishing what were referred to as "star atlases," or celestial atlases. Sidney Hall, a fairly successful British cartographer, begun his career by contributing engravings to popular international atlases. Around 1825, however, following the major success of Alexander Jamieson's Celestial Atlas, published in 1822, Hall was asked to created a set of 32 engravings depicting the sky's constellations. Published as a set of cards under the title Urania's Minor or A View of the Heavens, Hall created two editions of the cards, the later of which, released in 1833, have become iconic interpretations of the skies above. [caption id="attachment_3498" align="aligncenter" width="528"] "Cancer"[/caption] Hall's engravings were accompanied by a text by Jehoshaphat Aspin, A Familiar Treatise on Astronomy. The cards served the dual purpose of illustrating the text, as well as serving as practical astronomical tools for consumers. In addition to the illustrations of figures and animals that Hall uses to depict the constellations, he accurately places the actual stars along the constellation lines. What's more, the manufacturers of the cards punched small holes where the stars are represented to allow light to come through. [caption id="attachment_3499" align="aligncenter" width="528"] "Gemini," with visible star holes.[/caption] This allowed for two things for people interested in the night sky: one could hold the card up in the air to properly locate and align the constellations, or project a shadow of the constellation onto a surface by holding the card up to a light. The card above, showing the twin stars, Castor and Pollux, commonly referred to as Gemini, gives a clear view of the star holes inserted into the cards. I love learning about how our predecessors conceived and thought about the world around them. Looking at maps and celestial atlases is a great way to get a glimpse into how conceptions of the world were changing with innovations in transportation, communication, and industry. In addition to the nerdy, historical aspects, I think these cards make awesome pieces for wall art. A close friend of mine just had a baby in early August, so I'm thinking for the baby's first birthday, I'm going to have the "Leo" constellation printed on birchwood for the her room in honor of her astrological sign. [caption id="attachment_3500" align="aligncenter" width="528"] "Leo Major and Leo Minor"[/caption] So, what's your sign?

Gallery Direct Featured on BUILT

Tweet Gallery Direct is proud to sponsor BUILT the Style Network’s new home improvement show.  Based in New York City, BUILT is the authority on stylish living.  The 10 episode series followers one of New York’s top design teams as … Read More

[caption id="attachment_3486" align="alignleft" width="329"] Radio City Music Hall by Michael Joseph printed on Aluminum[/caption] Gallery Direct is proud to sponsor BUILT the Style Network's new home improvement show.  Based in New York City, BUILT is the authority on stylish living.  The 10 episode series followers one of New York's top design teams as they transform the homes of New York's most exclusive clients. What's the hook? This construction crew is made up of the male models that have graced the fashion runways and magazines. Each episode features a demanding client who has hired the design team to do a high end room remodel in their fabulous home, turning what was once a bland space into a dream location that the viewers will aspire to. Among them is an engineer, an art installation specialist, a foreman, and hundreds of hours of hands-­‐on handy work. [caption id="attachment_3487" align="alignright" width="300"] Merrymaking Series by M. Drake printed on Acrylic[/caption] We are thrilled that Gallery Direct's artwork was chosen by the interior designers for the remodels.  The shows interior designers picks out and customizes the artwork that completes the room decor.  See anything you like?   See more of the BUILT images on our Facebook Page.    

More Vienna, The Kiss, and Brussels

Tweet So where was I?  I was in Vienna, in the Secession Building in winter, looking at Klimt’s poster for the first Secession exhibit (showing the aggressive Theseus who slew the Minotaur, like the new Jugenstil fighting the traditional values).  I was wearing layer upon layer … Read More

So where was I?  I was in Vienna, in the Secession Building in winter, looking at Klimt's poster for the first Secession exhibit (showing the aggressive Theseus who slew the Minotaur, like the new Jugenstil fighting the traditional values).  I was wearing layer upon layer of wool to compensate for my tropical background.  Once, during a dinner, my friend Rosa counted how many sweaters, cardigans and jackets I took off:  "I can't believe you had eight layers on top of this shirt."  In Brazil we only have one word for coat:  casaco.  When referring to a heavy coat, an outdoor coat, a sweater or a light cardigan, you must add a bunch of words to describe it.  Europeans and Americans have the culture perfected:  one word for a heavy, outdoor coat, one for the coat that goes underneath — and that's basically it.  The German language is even more precise.  You need no more than two well-insulated "coats" to hit the streets during winter. My vocabulary and understanding of cold was expanding.  Now I only needed to see snow.
In 1903 Klimt, though normally no traveler, journeyed twice to Ravenna, where he viewed the mosaics of San Vitale.  Meanwhile, his Secession colleagues were turning to interior design and crafts, mosaics and gold leaf.
In his later phase, Klimt turnet to allegorical or figure painting.  The Kiss carried Klimt's golden style to its apex. The most popular of Klimt's painting, it escalates the intensity of the sensuous effect by expanding the symbolic at the expense of the realistic field. In it, the flesh is covered, yet the sensuous effect is heightened by the gestural, caressing line. In the clothing, as in the flowering base on which the lovers kneel, the ornamental elements serve also as symbols. The drapery of both male and female stands uncompromisingly distinguished by its ornamental designs.  These are not traditional symbols, but inventions drawn from Klimt's unconsicous.  The two defined fields of sexual symbols are brought into a union of opposites by the vibrant cloth of gold that is their common ground. [caption id="attachment_3442" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Kiss, Gustav Klimt[/caption]
I only wish I could walk in Vienna by the beginning of the twentieth century! Freud and the unconscious, the Secessionists, Mahler, Schonenberg and the atonal music, Schiele, Kokoshka -not to  mention temporary visitors, like Jung.
I spent some of my time in Vienna also looking at buildings designed by Otto Maria Wagner (an architect that belonged to the Secession).  I  recall almost being shocked by how contrasting the new architecture was (it was the early 1990s).  For example, in the very heart of the city, in front of the Stephansdom (St. Stephens Cathedral  —  a gothic icon) sat the Haas Haus - a mall designed by Hans Hollein.  I didn't feel like exploring it; it had way too much mirrors for me and I was not in that mood. There was another "avant-garde" group of architects that attracted me much more in their deconstructivism, and they were Coop Himmelblau.  But I saved my visit to their office for the next time I was in Vienna.
Apart from the art nouveau and the narrow streets with lanterns, what took my heart in Vienna was a fantastic architect (and painter /sculptor) named Hundertwasser (you can see some amazing photos of his work here and print at Gallery Direct).  He was certainly ahead of his time with free shapes, green roofs, organic-shaped floors (yes, even his floors were covered with "bumps" —  he claimed that humans were not suited to walk on flat surfaces or live in angled corners), colors, more colors and textures.  His buildings in Vienna (and everywhere) are one of a kind, and I can't forget the Hundertwasserhaus, with the soothing sound of the water that runs inside the structure.  Hundertwasser died recently (2000) and was not part of the Secession. Well, at least not directly!
I also remember visiting Freud's house, where he spent most of his time.  It was converted into a museum, and today displays objects that Freud collected and his furniture as it was set when he lived there. After visiting his house, I was compelled to read Peter Gay's biography of Freud.  Last year I watched A Dangerous Method and thought of that house again. Today I would be much more curious about seeing Jung's house, but that is another trip and another subject.
[caption id="attachment_3427" align="alignleft" width="225"] The house where Freud lived with his family for many years[/caption]
After Vienna, I returned to Brussels, then resumed college in Freiburg, then went back to Brussels (the train trips are an extra chapter; I think I learned more in trains than anywhere.  What weird encounters you can have in a train when you are young with a backpack!  I will leave this to your imagination for now).
In Brussels I discovered Victor Horta, one of the most important names in Art Nouveau. Horta was an architect, designer and everything else (Art Nouveau is considered a 'total' style, as it includes a hierarchy of scales of design — architecture; interior design; decorative arts including jewelry, furniture, textiles, household silver and other utensils and lighting; and the visual arts). While we are on it, check all the Art Nouveau amazing images that Gallery Direct carries. You can have an idea of what a rich artistic period this was.
 My favorite story about Victor Horta is that he was kicked out of music school (where he first went) for disciplinary reasons.  Because of this rejection (I do not know what he did, but would love to), he entered architecture school in the early 1870s.  What a blessing that he did.
Between 1878 and 1880, Horta worked in Paris, where he saw the possibilities of working with iron and glass.  Iron was the perfect material for the twists and curves of Art Nouveau.  In subsequent years he focused on the curvature of his designs, believing that the forms he produced were highly practical and not artistic affectations.  He won a great number of prizes for his work.
Sincerely, I do not believe that Art Nouveau can truly discard or deny the artistic flavor it gave to the world — and what could be wrong with that?  —  but highly practical or not, Victor Horta is another icon of the period.  Check below the house where he lived in Brussels (I apologize for having lost my own photos; I found these on the web). [caption id="attachment_3423" align="alignleft" width="300"] Victor Horta House in Brussels - Stairs, oh, the Stairs![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3421" align="alignleft" width="300"] Victor Horta House in Brussels - Detail[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3422" align="alignleft" width="300"] Victor Horta House in Brussels - Detail[/caption]

The Mysteries of Mona Lisa

Tweet “The most famous painting in the world” - The Mona Lisa. La Joconde. La Gioconda. Leonardo’s masterpiece. The portait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is instantly recognizable to virtually everyone in the Western world. The Mona Lisa … Read More

"The most famous painting in the world" - The Mona LisaLa Joconde. La Gioconda. Leonardo's masterpiece. The portait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, is instantly recognizable to virtually everyone in the Western world. The Mona Lisa practically has a cult following - but why? People crowd around the small portrait at the Musée du Louvre in Paris every day just to get a glimpse of the world's most famous smile, even from a distance. When I was living in Paris, I was taking an art history course that had me walking through the miles upon miles of galleries of the Louvre at least once a week. I spent hours taking it in and soaking up as much as I possibly could. Sometimes, I would go early on a Tuesday morning, and I would feel like the only person around - until I got to the Salle des États where The Mona Lisa is housed. No matter the time of day or week, there was always an admiring crowd surrounding the approximately 21 x 30 in. painting. Clearly there's something special about this painting. It is easily the most parodied work - from famed Dadaist Marcel Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q. to one of Gallery Direct's own artists, Randy Slack.

The painting, created by Leonardo da Vinci between 1503 and 1519, has been the subject of much speculation and mystery for hundreds of years. Theories about its creation abound, and studies are still being done today as to the origins and formal qualities of the painting. In fact, artdaily.org reported this week that Alfonso Rubino has performed a geometrical analysis on La Joconde, revealing that Leonardo "worked the geometry found in his design of the Vitruvian Man into his paintings." According to Dr. Markus Frey of the Mona Lisa Foundation, not only is this a groundbreaking find, but is also confirms that a painting that was thought to be an earlier version of The Mona Lisa is in fact genuine.

The "Earlier Version," according to recent carbon dating, was created sometime between 1410 and 1450. There are so many theories as to the creation of the painting that an earlier version is sure to prove to be fuel for the proverbial fire. Theories about The Mona Lisa range from topics such as pregnancy, Bell's Palsy, high cholesterol, secret societies, biblical references, and many more.

The Mona Lisa has inspired people for centuries, but not always in a good way. In 1911, a worker at the Louvre, Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian patriot, stole the small poplar panel right from the wall of the Louvre, believing that despite the fact that the painting was completed in France and legally sold to the French king after da Vinci's death, the painting belonged to the artist's home country of Italy.

After biding his time for two years, however, Peruggia attempted to sell The Mona Lisa to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Officials at the Uffizi immediately notified the Louvre, at which point it was returned to Paris after an extended tour throughout Italy.

The painting has also been the target of many iconoclastic attempts. It was attacked twice in 1956, first by acid and then by a thrown rock, at which point it was decided that it could no longer be displayed without the protection of a bulletproof-glass case. Even after the case was added, however, it was the subject of vandalism in 1974 and more recently in 2009.

So why does this painting inspire people so much - whether it be to artistic creation, endless research, conspiracy theories, criminal activity, or violence? The enigmatic smile, the beautiful and slightly surreal landscape in the background, the facial geometry, the bodily arrangement of the portrait, the identity of the sitter, and numerous other inquiries have captured the world's attention.

Personally, as a student of art history (who admittedly does not focus on the Renaissance, and is by no means a da Vinci scholar), the formal execution of the painting is at the heart of the matter. Putting aside all of the theories and mysteries surrounding it, The Mona Lisa is, above all, an exemplar of Renaissance fastidiousness and ingenuity. The amount of detail and precision that was exercised by da Vinci is the most captivating element of the painting. The bizarre landscape, the ethereal veil that floats above her delicate curls, every fold on her dress, the considered use of sfumato - all suggest to me that the painting was created by an exceedingly patient, practiced, and loving hand. When I look at La Joconde, I envision the artist, meticulously tending to each line, each shadow on the relatively small panel. I see a life dedicated to artistry and aesthetic integrity.

So what do you think? Does The Mona Lisa inspire you? What do you think she's smiling at?