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How to choose the right lighting for your artwork?

Do you want to highlight a work of art, a painting or a wall decoration? Follow these tips to find the right light to bring your artwork to life!


The right light

The wall lamp

Mounted above a piece of art, the wall lamp, with its long arm, allows you to direct a beam of light directly onto the piece, and provides evenly dispersed lighting. Installation, however, requires some forethought to hide the electric wires. On the other hand, most models also allow for a direct outlet connection.


The ceiling light

Wall art can also be lit using Asian ceiling lights. Two projectors placed above the piece usually do the trick. The lighting mustn’t be too strong to create soft shadows.


The table lamp

If a table, shelf or hutch is facing the piece of art, a table lamp or an Asian desk lamp can be used. Simply point the beam towards the piece of art.


The type of lighting

LED lights are the perfect fit for artwork. They shine light very accurately, bringing attention to the objects. LED lights have a long life cycle and consume very little energy. What’s more, they don’t produce ultraviolet or infrared emissions, and they don’t heat or alter surrounding objects—even those that are very sensitive.


The colour of the light

Kelvins (K) are units used to classify lighting according to colour and output. This rating allows to determine the colour emitted by a lamp. “Neutral” white is estimated at 4,000 K. The higher the value, the stronger the bluish tinge, creating a cool atmosphere. Sightly warm white lighting, ranging around 3,000 K, creates a warmer environment. Your choice therefore depends on the ambiance you wish to create around your artwork.


For the experienced collector 

Far too often overlooked when choosing a light bulb for artwork is the colour rendering index (CRI)—this concept examines the ability of a light source to reproduce the colours of the visible spectrum. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the CRI, the more accurate and natural the light will seem and the better the colours of the objects will be preserved. Most LED commercial-grade lights (sold in big-box stores) have a CRI near 80 (medium-low). Most light bulbs sold at Luminaires & cie have a CRI of 90 or above (very good).


That said, a huge difference can be seen when you shift to SORAA bulbs, which have a CRI of 95. These bulbs are often used in art galleries, museums and speciality shops, where the colours and the atmosphere are paramount. Visit our store to learn more about these premium light bulbs.


Tips and tricks

  • Very large pieces of art require several wall lamps or ceiling lights.
  • If your artwork is protected by glass, make sure it’s anti-reflective glass to avoid reflections.
  • Ideally, the middle of the piece should be at eye level.
  • Unless you’re looking to create contrast, choose lighting whose style aligns with the artwork. For instance, abstract art pairs beautifully with modern-style wall lights.

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