Art Collecting Culture

A few weeks ago I traveled to Amsterdam, the capital city of The Netherlands, to explore my heritage and a whole lot of art museums. When starting this company in 2016, I was put in a position to name our consulting firm rather quickly. After trying many options on for size, we landed on my surname which translates in Dutch to "The Great." Growing up I hoped it meant I was a decedent of royalty, but I've since learned it simply refers the stature of my ancestors. Either way, the name conveyed a sense of grandeur and was a perfect tribute to my grandmother who was herself an artist. 

After arriving at the airport I certainly found myself surrounded by those who are vertically advantaged, with a large part of the population over six feet tall. Equally great were the ways in which the Dutch lived; their iconic row houses are towering, skinny, and compact. At night I would peer into the windows as I walked along the canals and was struck by the consistent presence of original artwork on the walls. They even hung beautiful large-scale paintings in their houseboats!

Surely inspired by the multitudes of world-class art museums in their country, the line between historical and home blends seamlessly there. Many of the pieces hanging were contemporary, and it made me wonder why our culture doesn't make the leap as often. I am making a concerted effort to not only improve my own home by investing in work made by living artists but to also help others make their spaces "Great" in the finest sense of the word. DeGroot Fine Art strives to place superior, local artwork in offices, hotels, restaurants, and private collections alike.

Visualizing Artwork in a New Space

 Collage by Stephen Eichhorn

Collage by Stephen Eichhorn

When helping a client select artwork for acquisition, a key tool we use is drafting simple interior drawings and mocking up the artwork in the room. Many of our clients purchase artwork for new construction before their space is completed. This can make artwork selections particularly difficult, since the scale of the space can be hard to understand and visualize when construction is in a nascent stage. We encountered this in a recent project: the client had floor plans and a design palette for a new executive office and was having trouble deciding which artwork would be most impactful yet cohesive with the new build out.

 Finish Package from Designer

Finish Package from Designer

To help our client make their decision, we drew up a simple room layout based on their floor plans, which focused on the anticipated artwork locations. We worked with the finishes selected by the designer to find furniture examples to include in the illustration; this helped contextualize the scale and surroundings of the artwork. We find that construction plans often shift and keeping things visually minimal helps the presentation stay focused on the artwork.

When acquiring artwork for an existing location, our presentation process includes more detailed mock-ups. We work with CAD drawings, Photoshop, and 3-D rendering programs to compile an image of the space with the new artwork options inserted into it. This photo-realistic method is an efficient way for the client to gauge how well the artwork fits their aesthetic and goals, as well as make decisions about custom framing or display options.

 Artwork Mock Up

Artwork Mock Up

The Value of Archival Framing

20170331_110920834.jpg

When approaching framing for a client, there are two main goals to consider: framing simply for ease of display or framing to protect an investment made in a work of art. As fine art consultants, we primarily focus on custom frames to protect the integrity of our client's art collections and maintain archival standards, ensuring long-term stability of the artwork.

Many factors contribute to the quality of a frame that we would recommend. Since DeGroot Fine Art is based in Chicago, we partner with local framers at the top of their field who work for elite organizations and museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago.

The framing process includes multiple custom components, including the profile, mat, glazing, and seal. For wood frames, each profile is custom built with hand-cut wood that can be stained to match existing design and furniture in a client's work space. We also collaborate with metal fabricators to create polished stainless steel frames when preferred. Once the frame is complete, they hand-cut mats to best support the artwork, using archival materials to ensure the long-term stability of the artwork. Next a museum-grade acrylic is selected and fitted to filter UV rays (notorious for fading pigments) while minimizing glare. Finally, the framer seals the back of the frame, protecting the interior space and artwork from dust and other contaminants. The framer's craftsmanship is consistent and meticulous through every step of their process.

"A framer's work can be just as much an art as the work of the artist themselves" says Dana McMahan for Apartment Therapy. Her recent article about the expenses of framing was insightful and added context to this topic; we recommend checking it out to learn more about the nuances involved in framing fine art.  

Exhibition Labels

In the collections we manage, artwork and artifacts are enhanced by custom exhibition labels. Similar to a museum, the text we incorporate varies in style in order to best reflect the identity and values of our client. Aesthetic details including custom metal finishes, polished acrylic, and brass pins can make a significant impact on the artful presentation of information. Text is either provided by our client or garnered from our research on their behalf. We provide a wide range of options, including acrylic panels, screen printed text, metal labels, and vinyl wall text. Our aim is to provide thoughtful descriptions that provide context and are cohesive with the entire exhibition design.

 Custom Aluminum Label & Hardware

Custom Aluminum Label & Hardware

In a recent project, we were commissioned to fabricate a text panel to match those in an existing collection. For a project like this, we collaborate with a wide network of vendors. We sourced aluminum sheets and worked with a fabricator on a custom brush to give the metal an elegant finish. We design the text digitally in-house, ensuring that the font, colors, and spacing all match the brand standards for our client. When the text is ready, we work with screen-printers to find a proprietary blend of inks and apply the letters to the panel. After the ink has cured, we select hardware that matches existing metal finishes throughout the client's art collection and have the panel custom-fitted to the hardware. Each text panel is treated with the same level of care as the artwork surrounding it.