Start with the Art:  Tips for Choosing the Perfect Pieces for Your Space

We met with Danielle OgdenMuseum consultant, Modern Art professor, and expert at elevating the careers of emerging artists – at her home in Newport, RI, to learn more about art collecting and how to approach choosing works for your own space. 

“There is a perception that art is for an exclusive few. Collecting can sometimes feel reserved for high-end hotels and other people’s luxury homes. Or, one can think that they don’t know enough about art to make an informed purchase. This is nonsense. One of the first works I ever bought was outside of Art Miami Basel at a pop-up airstream; the second was an Ukiyo-e Japanese print that I bought at auction in Fairfield County for under $200. There are so many ways and resources to infuse your home with works that look and feel priceless.”

With a venerable career in the international art world, Danielle called upon her experience working with artists of varying mediums as the driving force behind the curation of her aesthetic environment. When approaching the design of her home, originally built in 1884 by famed Newport Architect Dudley Newton, Danielle sought to marry the seemingly dichotomous worlds in which she inhabited: Historic Rhode Island construction (complete with period specific details and 7 working fireplaces), with the pieces by the contemporary artists she works with. The vision was to create a space that honored both of these elements while also providing a practical environment for her family of four. 

In her mind, there was only one solution: Start with the art. The rest, as you will see, all fell perfectly into place. 

“As my former colleague at National Gallery Singapore used to say, ‘first things first.’ When we bought our house, it was essential that it felt collected, rather than decorated. The first step when we approached a room was to start with one single work of art – We then asked: what thought, feeling or mood does this work convey? The entire room emerged from there.” 

Here, a lithograph by Thailand-based artist, Christian Develter takes center stage above the dining room mantel, while one of Newport-based artist  Tyler Arment’s Small Blue Light Series Abstracts hangs to the right. After painting the original wood paneling of the house white, Danielle was able to begin with a fresh canvas – allowing the works to influence the room

Prior to having their children, Danielle and her husband, an investment manager and navigator on racing sailboats , traveled extensively (and still love to when they can).

This Slim Aarons of Hotel Du Cap Eden-roc is reminiscent of their time in the Côte d’Azur and sailing on the Mediterranean. For Danielle, the art in a home should not only capture one’s attention, but also carry personal meaning

“I love looking over at this ocean view of the French Riviera and the whisper of relaxation and glamour in the midst of chasing after small children.” 

Taking a cue from the artists she works with, Danielle chose to play with scale and proportion when selecting works to display. Above, a painting by Fairfield County based artist, Linda Colletta, makes a bold statement. 

Don’t be afraid to take a “risk.”

The space stimulates visual intrigue when balanced with harmonious design elements, making the piece captivate the room’s attention. 

“The kitchen is the center of our home. It is the room that bears witness to burnt cookies, crazy dance moves, and temper tantrums. Art in the kitchen can not only enliven a space, but can also become part of the conversation. When looking at this work, my children love pretending that they are biting into the fruit, while I smile over the tongue and cheek nod to 17th-century Dutch Still Life Painting. Regardless of the interpretation, the work provides  whimsy and warmth to our kitchen walls.”

ML Kirchner’s Watermelon photograph serves as a testament to art being a reflection of life Allow the works that fill the space to be as unique and dynamic as the people who live there. 

“I first saw and fell in love with artist Ronnie Williams on Instagram when he was featured by the designer, Alvin Wayne. I was immediately drawn to his use of raw canvas and playful forms. At our first studio visit I was amazed to learn that it was during the pandemic where he began to dedicate his life to painting. We both immediately connected and started working together. One month later, he was featured by the renowned Designer Amber Lewis.”

If you see a work on instagram or social media that you are intrigued by, don’t hesitate to reach out to the artist directly; by supporting new talent you are helping to elevate their careers.

Here, in her boys’ playroom, Danielle mixes a framed acrylic on paper by Linda Colletta with a graphic piece by ML Kirchner

Pops of yellow energize the room like rays of richly hued sunshine, awakening a sense of joy. The text “Be Your Own Champion” offers words of inspiration and excitement.

“As an educator, I’m reminded that minds thrive in places that encourage creativity — I love artwork in playrooms and children’s rooms, especially abstract paintings and works with text.

 A great artwork can enhance a space and mirror the playful, imaginative, energetic spirit of our children.”

“Purchasing a work of art is like a relationship; invest in it because it speaks to you, because it piques your interest; there should be a constant desire to see and think more about it. Just like choosing a partner, spouse, or friend, choose work that makes you think, feel, and be inspired.” 

By its very nature, art sparks discussion and creates connection (especially on Install Day). Above, a Los Angeles landscape by ML Kirchner is the perfect finishing touch.   

Written and Styled by: Samantha Curtis

Photography by: Madison Van Wylen

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