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I grew up in a home where pictures hung on all the walls of all the rooms. Oil paintings, both antique and modern, cohabited with watercolors and mirrors. Photographs of great-grandfathers with beards, top hats, or military uniforms stared out at us, and sets of Hogarth prints of London decked the walls of the staircases. Large hangings and embroideries were also present-my parents had eclectic tastes and it all was part of the tapestry of our lives.
It is hard for me to relate to empty walls, yet one sees them in certain modern magazines looking self-consciously barren. I wonder what it says about the owners of such walls? To me there is something so empty about a home without paintings, photographs, and suchlike. They are so very much the soul of a home. To say I hope this is a passing phase is an understatement. Like a woman's face, the walls of a house do not look good unadorned. They need something that adds warmth, personality, depth, interest, texture, and-most of all-soul, to the life and spirit of the home.
One only has to look at the homes we have illustrated in this book to see what magic can be achieved. Fay Gold, Chantal Fabres, Katy Barker, Andrew McIntosh Patrick, Tim Hobby, Alan Siegel, Jackye Lanham, and Stephanie Reeves have all created wonderful homes-and all with totally different tastes in art and photography.
My taste in art is ever changing-partly, I suppose, because I get to see many different artists and mediums in my "day job." There are certain paintings I have always loved and would never want to part with. Others I find I tire of and want to exchange for something new. I often look at the way a painting is framed and realize that a change of frame, and possibly a change of wall or room, will totally rejuvenate my attitude to it. Tastes and styles in framing are changing all the time, and ways of displaying art have also altered quite radically. The rule now seems to be almost anything goes. I say "almost" since certain basic rules still exist, and I have tried to make these rules clear in the interviews I have included with experts in all the different fields.
Many new collectors are intimidated about entering a gallery and asking questions. For them the advent of the new art and photography fairs that have sprung up over the past decade are a boon. My advice to them is to go to as many of these art fairs as they can. In large cities like London, New York, and Paris we are spoiled for choice. They range from the Affordable Art Fairs to the very newest and most select fair entitled "Frieze." The best place to find out when and where these fairs take place is a good art or photography magazine, as most of them will list fairs at home and abroad. Try them before you sign up for a subscription because they reflect different styles and interests.
Another useful hint is, whenever you go to a new town, get a copy of a gallery guide. This will be up to date and far better than any list we could hope to give you. In our sources section at the back of the book, however, we include details of galleries we know, which have assisted us in providing the book with good illustrations, as a guide to where to find this sort of art. We have also listed journals worldwide and a few good art show companies as a starting point. We have tried to be as far-reaching as possible, but with framers, for example, you will find that we have only listed the framers with whom we have worked directly ourselves. (I believe that finding a framer should be like finding a hairdresser-get a recommendation from a friend you trust and try them for yourselves but once you find one whose work you like, trust his judgment.)
My children, Michael and Kelly, have played a large part in my appreciation of contemporary trends. This has not meant that I no longer love my collection of early portraits or my religious art from South and Central America, but that I see the beauty of these latest trends, too, and you will find many of them reflected in the pages of this book.
It has been a great experience for me to work with the experts from many different areas of the art world that I have dealt with in this book. It is always a surprise to find how generous the truly talented are-and how willing they are to share their knowhow and their passion. I believe that together we have compiled a great deal of information into a form in which it can be easily assimilated, both by the aspiring beginner as well as the well-established collector. The information is specialized, varied, informative, and practical.
I am a believer in buying from the soul-buying the art or photography that makes your heart sing, that enlarges your vision, that gives your life new meaning. Others will tell you to buy as an investment. I don't believe this. All of the really great collections I have ever seen have been built on a dream, a love, and a lifetime passion. This is something that will find reflected in the pages that follow, and that, I hope, will inspire you to develop your own collection of art for your home.
Excerpted from The New Decorating With Pictures by Stephanie Hoppen Copyright © 2004 by Stephanie Hoppen. Excerpted by permission.
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