Something I only thought about recently is how, when curators or even dealers are designing art exhibits, they have to be conscious of how each work is positioned. It’s even kind of funny to me to think that, among all the college art courses I either took or just saw in the catalog “How To Design An Exhibit” was never one of them, and that definitely seems like something that could be made into an entire course. At the very least some training in it would be helpful for art history majors going out into the world hoping to grab a job at a museum or gallery. Some choices seem obvious but it still seems like being able to say, “Well, I know not to put a Seurat in a hallway” would give you some edge in a job interview.
I also think about artists like Denyse Thomasos, who’s getting a bit of a revival lately, and whose paintings often dealt with the themes of of slavery and the African diaspora, and who purposely made big paintings so details would be clearly visible, as well as giving a sense of the inescapable, since she was trying to convey the experiences of people who were trapped. Placing a big painting requires careful thought. Then again so does placing a small painting. How much wall space is there? How much space should be between paintings? How high on the wall should a painting be placed?
Add to all these considerations the fact that that most exhibit spaces are designed to guide you from point A to point B–the more walls the more display space there is, and some exhibits try to tell some kind of story. Even if they don’t a good curator has to be aware that what people see first is going to influence what they see next, and it’s important to keep them moving. You don’t want to put the best work first or people will either stop or feel let down by the time they get to the end, if they don’t just leave. And it should be really obvious that you want to provide a clear view without anything in the way.