Art is created with many mediums and one of the coolest just might be neon. Long a fixture on city streets everywhere, neon lights are increasingly being used to create artworks that are modern and different. These low-voltage lights consist of a glass tube that is filled with the inert gas — neon — with electrodes at the end. The resulting glow is ideal for creating evocative pieces that exude color, creativity and meaning.
According to Christoph Ribbat in “Flickering Light: A History of Neon,” it is ironic that neon lights are considered such a quintessential American element. Actually, they were developed by George Claude, a French chemist and engineer who explored the colored light he could create with gases, leading to the development of the first commercial neon lights.
In fact, these neon wall art ideas will be instant conversation pieces no matter where in the home you install them.
Los Angeles artist Pae White creates works that focus on fleeting and ephemeral elements in everyday life. White’s work crosses the lines of fine art and applied art, as well as design and architecture. This collection of pastel-colored neon shapes that span walls and ceiling is an installation called Lucky Charms. This would be a fantastic installation in an entryway or a living room.
Slovak artist Viktor Frešo creates all kinds of artwork and this neon work is full of color and rife with emotion. It fits with the current atmosphere of self-examination and volatile feelings displayed in the media. Wall art ideas like this are a bold way to make a statement about your convictions and opinions.
As Art Review says, many artists have been drawn to neon because of its “contradictory appeal” which is the “ability to embody both the idea of an optimistic urban modernity and its flipside of a darker dystopian underbelly.” Regardless of why they use it, today’s artists are turning this glowing medium into artworks that have a range of styles that go far beyond the typical neon sign.
This geometric work of neon is a completely different style from most others and it exudes a feeling of calm, unlike the typical neon lights that are associated with an energetic environment. Of course, this is should not be a surprise because the artist is Brian Eno, known as an innovator in music. After all, he did launch the band Roxy Music and work with David Bowie and Coldplay. Just as groundbreaking is the 70-year-old artist’s visual collection. Playing on the contemplative nature of art and art galleries, Eno told Red Bull magazine that his work has a calm appeal because “It doesn’t go anywhere: there’s no narrative to it and no story. After being in [the installation] for two or three minutes, you realize nothing else is going to happen. [Laughs]. And yet people stay for a long time and seem very happy with that.”
Art ideas like this one by Chul-Hyun Ah not only adds color but also depth and dimension to the wall. Actually, this one uses mirrors and LED lights instead of neon. The Baltimore-based Ahn is known for his wondrous light sculptures that use reflection to create the illusion that they go on forever. This optical illusion creates the depth that adds interest to a wall, almost as if it is a portal to the unknown.
As with other mediums, neon can be used in dramatic pieces that make a political statement. This piece is called Sediments by Chilean-born Ivan Navarro and was created in 2017. The artist’s early works reflect the “collective psychological trauma of his native country” under the rule of dictator Pinochet. His current works focus on combining everyday domestic symbols with visual language. He is best known for his socio-politically neon sculptures that entice the sense and the mind. These types of art ideas are a sure way to generate conversation among friends and family.
Art created with neon lends itself to darker spaces where it can make the biggest impact. It’s a wonderful art idea for a room that needs some spark, especially those that are windowless or have little natural light. For example, this abstract piece by Keith Sonnier looks best in a dark space where the tangled shapes and profusion of colors can stand out. Sonnier was a pioneer in the 1960’s, creating sculpture with industrial and other materials. Late in the decade, he turned to neon to “draw in space with light and color” to create his artworks.
Neon lights were developed for illuminated letters for advertising, so it’s natural that artists are using the medium to create works that focus on words. These art ideas are often political statements but can also be constant sources of motivation or remembrance in your home. This work is by Kelly Mark, a conceptual artist who works across a wide range of media. This phrase makes you stop and think, and would be one of those motivational pieces to move you to action. The oval work below has the same effect, helping to remind viewers to put things in perspective.
Sometimes, you just want a happy message hanging on the wall of your home. These two neon works are by Mr. Brainwash, a French-born, Los Angeles-based street artist whose real name is Thierry Guetta. Je T’aime and I Love You! are both composed of spray paint, stickers and neon on plywood in a plexiglass box. The bright red and message convey warmth and happiness, while the stickers in the background remind us of how fragile love — of all kinds – actually is. They are fabulous art ideas for any room.