Moving Pictures: How To Choose Art

Art plays a role in all our lives. Some people collect it. Others create it. Still others use it simply to fill up space on their walls. But here’s the bottom line: art can influence us in profound ways. It can be moving, disturbing, or even infuriating. Its effect shouldn’t be underestimated.

Art enthusiasts have always known this. Scott Broadfoot, owner of Broadfoot & Broadfoot, A Collection of Fine Art in Boonton—and the most passionate art enthusiast I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting—points out, “Art will evoke an emotion. It’s supposed to evoke an emotion.”

Scott Broadfoot

However, Broadfoot reminds us, “not all emotion is good.” An unsettling piece “works out perfectly in a gallery or museum.” Your home, however, is a different story. “The wrong art could create a lot of angst and make a space feel uncomfortable.” The criteria for “right” and “wrong” art is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. Still, Broadfoot notes that there are some general principles to consider when choosing pieces for your home.


1. “When you walk into a room that’s small and tight, put in a painting that has great depth and pulls you in. The room can appear bigger.”

Painting by Todd L.W. Doney /image courtesy of Broadfoot & Broadfoot, A Collection of Fine Art


2. “If you have a big space, sometimes you want to feature a piece that’s busy, because then the painting appears to have more volume. When the energy of the painting is bigger, it’s more emotional and it fills the space.”

Painting by Carole McDermott/ image courtesy of Broadfoot & Broadfoot, A Collection of Fine Art


3. “Red or burgundy paintings in dining rooms work well because they activate conversation. That’s what you want. Usually red is very active. It makes people come out of their shell and talk more.”

Left: Photo: Morris Gindi, Design NJ October/November 2011 | Design: Drake Design Associates; Right: Photo: Peter Rymwid, Design NJ October/November 2013 | Design: Gail Barley


4. In a bedroom, choose what makes you feel comfortable. “What’s relaxing to you is not necessarily relaxing to me,” points out Broadfoot. So, particularly in a room meant for rest, the art should suit the style of the room’s inhabitants.

Left: Photo: Peter Rymwid, Design NJ April/May 2016 | Design: Diane Durocher Interiors; Right: Photo: Peter Rymwid, Design NJ October/November 2013 | Design: Gail Barley


While it’s important to choose pieces that appeal to us personally, Broadfoot does urge art buyers to stretch their thinking a bit. “In your home, I want to transcend you spiritually and emotionally.” Broadfoot encourages people to think outside their own preconceived notions of the kind of art they like.

Paintings of animals suited our prehistoric ancestors and the caves where they lived. Warhol soup cans suited pop-art enthusiasts and their mod apartments. What kind of art suits you and your home?