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Art in Your Home

Phillip Thomas, Bonhams Skinner’s Designer in Residence, and Founder of Phillip Thomas Inc., speaks on art in your home with pieces from our June 29, 2022 Modern & Contemporary Art auction.

“There is nothing that brings a space ALIVE like a fabulous piece of art whether that be a painting, sculpture, or even a collection. You can have the most beautiful architecture or furniture but until you layer in meaningful pieces, items that are special to you, it is not complete. I understand – art can be intimidating with so many artists, galleries, auctions, etc.. If you are a novice or even if you are an experienced buyer on the verge of exploring a genre you are not familiar with, it can be overwhelming.

There are a few basic principles that guide me when I am searching for art for my own home and when working with my clients that I want to share with you as you see works you may be considering for your space.  I often tell people who think they may not be art collectors, that indeed they are – that collection of items they found in their travels in faraway lands no matter the price or that sentimental item they bought for their very first home that can be beautifully framed and lit properly and displayed as art. As the phrase goes, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and pieces that you are passionate about or immediately drawn to, pieces that excite you and move you to recall a special memory, that is entirely what art is all about!

1. Buy what you LOVE.

First and foremost – invest in pieces that pull you in and make it hard to look away! Ultimately remember, this art will be in your home and you will be looking at it every day. Your art should inspire you, excite you and make you happy!

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-2008), Van Vleck Series III
Sold for $50,000.

2. Mix styles and eras in your home. 

Nothing makes me happier than modern art in a traditional home and vice versa. That tension is what makes a space unique! Art has been around in many forms since the beginning of time and is always influenced by the past. No need to stick to one theme or time frame. 

Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886-1957), Alimentando al niño (Nourishing the Boy)
Sold for $13,750

3. Do your homework

Find out about the artist. Emerging artists can be just as inspiring as more popular, established artists. And I often find, even more exciting! It is thrilling to watch an artist’s career develop!

Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, b. 1929), Red Pumpkin – Naoshima
Sold for $938

4. Size matters!

Do not be afraid of large art whether that is a painting or a sculpture. Just as windows can completely change the feel of a space and trick the eye, art can open up a smaller room and make it feel much larger. 

Hans Jorg Limbach (German, 1928-1990), Cage of Affluence
Sold for $9,375

5. Go for color!

I beg you not to try to match your art to your interiors! Art should stand out on its own. Art will lose its dynamic appeal if it blends into (and disappears) into the space.”

Gustavo Novoa (Chilean, b. 1941), Tropical Sunset
Sold for $7,500


Consider reading:
Skinner Announces Phillip Thomas as Inaugural Designer in Residence

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