binder clips in art

As a curator, I absolutely hate hanging things without professional mounting. Lots of people disagree with me and, as a result, one of the artists in a show coming up that I curated will have work hanging by good old cheap binder clips. Binder clips are much less valuable than your art. Unless you’re Sara Sze or your work uses similar materials, I think they make art look cheap {cheaply made and cared for}. It shows that you don’t respect your work, so why should anyone else.

Much artwork is affective because of its semiotic elements. Much of what constitutes the existence of art is how its symbols affect our state of mind. Art can be considered a semiotic language in and of itself.

Binder clips are from office supply stores. If you hang with binder clips a black and white large format photograph depicting a sullen man half obscured by burnt film markings and other similar dark accouterments, the dark grotesque feeling you might wish to convey will be slightly inflicted with remembrances of that last shopping trip you made for bic pens, copy paper and a thumb drive.

I’ve heard artists say, in exasperation, that they don’t care if their work looks bad, gets stolen {wait…I think I said that once}, falls of the wall and breaks or is badly lit. Hearing that has always given me the impression that the artist does not care for his own work or is unsure of it. Perhaps they are too wiped out to deal with making it look presentable, especially since most artists can barely afford the time or money it takes to properly present a work of art. Artists become exhausted!

Ask for help! As a curator, I can’t afford to put your work up on the walls looking cheap. I’d prefer to find a professional solution to displaying your work. Otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time, including your own.

Check out this article on Artsy Shark for some opinions on displaying artwork.


2 thoughts on “binder clips in art

  1. I’m hanging 25 artpieces on homemade paper (2′ x 3′) from a pipe about 7′ from the floor. If not binder clips, how. Please help. I’m in a fix.

    • Can I assume the works are not mounted and that you were planning on clipping the paper directly? With this assumption in mind, you will have to cinch, punch or tape your work in order to hang it from a pipe with wire or string which will obviously cause damage if done casually.

      Basically, you’ll have to do some research on hardware and art supplies. Talk to a framer to see what he/she suggests. It’s best to find a solution that is aesthetically pleasing to you; find some way to mount the work that looks intentional and not cheap. If you need to do something temporary for this particular show, choose something that won’t render the work irreparable.

      Binder clips don’t just come in black. If you find you are stuck and must use them, look for other colors or shapes that might work with your art. Is there a clean way you can attach a string to the clips rather than just tying a clumpy knot? Is there any way you can hide the clips with something? Just as you were creative with your artwork, you’ll need to be creative with your display.

      Whatever you find, make sure it will hold your work up for the duration of the show. Many things are not strong enough to hold heavy paper. There are also many items sold in art stores claiming to be great mounting products, yet absolutely don’t hold up (fall off walls, leave horrible marks behind on artwork and walls, etc), so think carefully about what you buy.

      Some people, such as the artist I talked about in my post, like what the binder clips look like, so use your own judgment in the end. Get advice from your curator/agent.

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