Fine Art Sculpture Lighting

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Light should never be too bright when illuminating sculptures.  Instead sculpture lighting should be more subtle, as if to cause the sculpture to emerge from darkness and shadow as a multi-dimensional phenomenon.  Much more than luminance is needed to achieve this effect.  Shadows are just as important as light in this setting because contrasting darkness is needed to create a sense of a virtual reality parallel to actual reality.  Shadow has to accentuate the three dimensional nature of the form itself and the many curves and differentiating details that establish its uniqueness.  This makes lighting a sculpture fundamentally different than lighting a painting.  Whereas lighting paintings produces a two-dimensional image, a statue always distinguishes itself from the background as an emerging, three-dimensional experience.

The degree of to which lighting a sculpture will be successful really will ultimately be determined by the quality and quantity focused light you shine upon the piece.  General lighting is simply too one dimensional for this task.  It has a very limited ability to bring out the finer points that constitute a three-dimensional masterpiece.  Architectural custom lighting, on the other hand, is so much more effective because it has creates the equivalent of an aura of light instead of a bright ray of light.  In such art lighting applications, regardless of type or genre, a visible ray beam of light would be something to avoid at all costs because it will present a distraction and create.

Recessed art lights work much better for sculptures (and for any fine art, for that matter) because they wash the subject matter in light that evokes a strong presentation of form and color, and that bring these attributes to the forefront of the viewer perception.  This necessitates the use of quality fixtures and normally means that we have to use more than one type of art light to accomplish the task.   The exact number of lights, and the types of fixtures we install, will be determined by number of pieces on display, and each work’s respective size and shape.  There are a number of dynamics here that we have to consider beyond width, length, and height, as well.  When we think of a sculpture, most of us tend to visualize a statue of a human being.  In reality, there is far greater diversity and complexity inherent to this genre than we have conditioned ourselves to immediately assume at face value.

For instance, many commemorative works will often depict a famous leader or military commander mounted on horseback.  When we go to light such a sculpture, we have to almost treat this single piece as two works tied together.  We must emphasize both the individual and the horse as separate entities, but we also have to light the sculpture in such a manner as to support the symbiotic unity of horse and rider.  Such outcomes cannot be achieved with only a only a single fixture or even one fixture type alone.  Instead, we need to approach such a subject from variety of angles and using at least three distinct layers of light and corresponding shadows in order to highlight such attributes as muscle tone, facial expressions, hair, weaponry, uniform, and regalia.  This is a tough order for any designer to fill, and it requires the very best in equipment and art design expertise to achieve.

Specification grade equipment is an absolute must for high end lighting such a sculpture.  No one can achieve the same level of subtlety and complexity with retail grade equipment.  Specification grade lamps, lenses, optical reflectors, and lighting controls are engineered with much more advanced technology than that of retail grade equipment.   It is important that we rely upon this advanced technology and draw from its fullest potential when we set out to complete complex lighting arrays and layered lighting effects.  Such blending of technology and design is virtually mandatory to an appropriate and aesthetically pleasing display of statuary and other fine art.  Experience, photometric lighting analysis and three-dimensional modeling is a key element that our design team uses to configure these arrays and to select the most appropriate and robust art lights for the task at hand.

There are three ways in which Illuminations Lighting and Design can help interior designers, homeowners, art consultants and the private art collector.  As a design-build firm with direct access to most world-class lighting manufacturers, ILD will develop the schematics and models for advanced gallery lighting and install the very best equipment at the point of client budget.  We are also willing to serve as a consulting firm who either designs several proposed systems for the client to then bid to local electrical services firms, or as a consultant working in partnership with a local contractor in need of our design experience and aesthetic expertise in fine art lighting.

We invite you to contact us toll free at 800-863-1184 to learn more about our fine art lighting company.  Illuminations Lighting Design is the only “One Stop” destination for lighting design services, engineering, landscape lighting services and installation in the state of Texas, and remains unrivaled by any lighting firm in the United States for lighting that is art. As homes grow larger and needs become more complex, having a single resource provides home owners with peace of mind. This translates into a smoother process, reduced costs and a better product.

We are located in Houston Texas but provide home lighting designs and house lighting plans in Austin TX, El Paso Texas, San Antonio TX, College Station Texas, Beaumont TX, Dallas Texas, Midland Tx and points beyond.