For many, light is seen only for its function in our daily lives. But artists see light as art, another extension of the very thing they live and breathe. Art Lighting elevates the artist’s art to a new level.
It doesn’t merely change the physical setting of an art piece or space. It sets the mood and tone and stirs the soul. Lighting is part of art, whether it’s part of a fine art collection, theatre, or an architectural element.
Light transforms art and highlights its best attributes. It brings an artist’s vision to life, so much so that artists throughout the ages have used it within their art itself.
All Through History Light Transformed Art
The Byzantine Era
Byzantine art conveyed light’s role in religion. Egyptian paintings, like those with the bright golden facemasks of the pharaohs, expressed the divine nature of the pharaohs through light use. At the inception of Christianity, once again, bright gold paint was back, this time defining divinity and the religious symbol – shining halos, gold frames, shadowy faces — this depicted holiness. Byzantine art of Jesus used light to add illumination to the face of Christ, once again drawing attention to the divinity of the Holy One.
The Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was one of the first Renaissance artists to discover the visual optical elements of light, as seen in art and even science. He studied the patterns of light as humans perceive it. Da Vinci pioneered the understanding that one’s perception of space depends on the light surrounding it. He applied this knowledge in his art and used light to lend a frame of reference and define shapes in his paintings. “The Last Supper” clearly demonstrates how da Vinci understood how light would transform his masterpiece.
The Age of Enlightenment – Jan Vermeer
During the 17th century, light itself was the subject of many artists. Jan Vermeer, a Dutch painter, used light as part of his painting. His “Woman with a Pearl Necklace” painting shows a white wall with light reflected from a window.
Impressionism – Claude Monet
If you study a Monet painting carefully, you’ll see that light was a central part of his art form. Monet’s “Water Lilies” series is a prime example of the artist’s use of light. The Impressionist painter took three decades to complete the collection, and the paintings are a beautiful display of how water reflects natural elements like the sun, clouds, and vegetation. But, to art aficionados, it becomes clear that light is what forms the images. The objects themselves become elements through light.
The 20th Century – Electricity Brings New Light as Art.
By 1925, half the homes in the U.S. had electrical power, and with that came a new era of light. Changes were on the horizon in the art world too. Photography in the early 1900’s changed the paradigms of vision and became visual art as it froze moments in time.
Visionaries saw the meaning of light in this new art. Luigi Russolo, an Italian Futurist composer and artist, combined music and art and was dubbed a noise artist. Russolo created “La Musica” in 1911, an oil painting of a pianist and his audience. It’s a visual depiction of music, its sound represented in bold, colorful ribbons. Behind the composer on the canvas, a white light emanated from behind him, perhaps to enhance or cast a spotlight on the performance.
Fine Art and Art Lighting
Pioneers in the art world understood that light not only influenced the colors of the paint but perception itself. Light became its own subject.
Modern artists understand the power of light. Stage artists use light to highlight specific characters in a performance. Art galleries use light to illuminate a piece of art without shadows or glaring casts.
Art lighting enhances the display and is part of the design itself. It magnifies the psychological impacts and appreciation of art.
Today, both novice and veteran art collectors place a high emphasis on light to illuminate their artwork. Art lighting has now become a central character in-home art displays.
The pioneers and visionaries of the art world understood the importance of light’s interaction with art. In the modern world, light is an essential background element for paintings and is its own art form.
Fine art lighting and lighting design play instrumental roles, not only for professional artists and galleries but for the indoor spaces of homes. It allows us to communicate our passions as we express ourselves through art.
Art lighting for your home display is an art that is best carried out by a professional lighting designer to avoid shadows and glares and illuminate your art in its best light.
The art lighting professionals at Illuminations Lighting Design understand all elements of lighting design. We’ve helped many homeowners throughout the Greater Houston region have the art display of their dreams.
Contact us for a consultation about your art lighting goals. We’d love to help you transform your art display into a museum-quality exhibit.