While these words might sound foreign, diptychs and triptychs are more common than you might think, as they represent an ancient art styling you often see employed today. The word diptych is Greek for “two-fold”, and triptych is Greek for “three-fold”. Put simply, this art styling consists of paintings, drawings, carvings, and photographs arranged on different panels or surfaces intended to be displayed together.
Dating back to the Middle Ages, valuable artwork was sometimes secured to sturdy panels that were hinged together so they could be closed shut to protect the artwork if needed. Different materials were used to create variations of diptych art and triptych art, such as ivory, stone, wood, canvas, and more. Over the centuries, the tradition of actually hinging artwork together has morphed into the practice of arranging two or three paintings that pair nicely together as one cohesive theme on a wall or in a room. While they might not be tangibly connected to each other, the color palettes, subject matter, and other stylistic nods still make the collection seem like one work of art.
Throughout the ages, diptych and triptych art has documented stories, preserved history, and referenced pop culture. Examples of famous ancient diptychs are Barberini Ivory, Constantinople (now in the Louvre), and the more recent Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol. Well-known triptychs include the Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch and more recent pieces such as Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion by Francis Bacon.
Barberini Ivory diptych on display at the Louvre.
Image source: Wikipedia
From the Middle Ages until today, this artistic style is still very much alive! Artists and interior designers are always looking for different, unique ways to pair paintings or photographs together in a way that tells a compelling story. For example, a diptych photographer may capture multiple images of a similar subject with the idea of featuring them side-by-side on a wall later on. One technique could include capturing an image of a particular scene both at night and during the day. The juxtaposition of these images inspires close analysis and reflection. Taking this practice one step further, a triptych photographer may elect to showcase the progression of seasons from summer to winter through three separate shots of the same lake. Another common approach used by photographers is capturing photos taken in rapid succession that tell a quick story on your wall, such as a wild mustang galloping.
Image source: Ursula Carmona (@homemadebycarmona)
Wall art doesn’t have to focus on the same shape or pattern to create the perfect diptych. The art pieces below depict both straight and bent lines and differing color sequences, but they are both watercolor paintings that use the same five colors in a bold brushstroke. The same artist created both pieces, and she talks about her inspiration from nature when it comes to the warm summer colors used and the reference to rainbows.
Because black and white have such a strong contrast between them, they pair perfectly together. Many people agree that these two colors pair more naturally than any other combination. The color combination also yields a chic and modern look (think black-tie formal events). If searching for a simple, sophisticated theme for your art set, consider pairing pieces of black and white art. If you have two or three photographs you would like to display on a wall, simply have them all printed in black and white to create a uniform look.
Is there a particular subject matter that draws your interest? Try two wall art prints that represent the topic. For example, you may love the ocean and select two seascapes. Or for the ski enthusiasts, consider two winter scenes of snow-covered terrain. Regardless of what subject matter rings truest to you, Minted has a wide variety of prints to choose from. The prints below might work for a gardener or someone who has a particular interest in plants and botany. You can enhance the paired look by selecting complementary frames.
Art is a matter of perspective. When you combine artwork captured from numerous perspectives or vantage points you can tell a much larger and thought-provoking story. In our example art set below, the artwork on the left is a great example of landscape photography that conjures up scenes of a rustic ranch where a group of horses run across rustic hills. The second image brings you up-close-and-personal with a horse, drawing your attention to details like how the mane drapes over its head. The two stories combined provide great insight into what this horse's life is like in this rural setting. As you brainstorm diptych combinations, the close-up image paired with the wide-frame shot can yield a compelling visual narrative.
Traditional diptychs showed a continuous scene throughout the panels. You can achieve a similar look with an artwork that is split into two frames. Rather than showcasing one large wall hanging above the living room couch or master bed, consider celebrating the same scene spread across multiple canvases. This is a simple way to try something different with your wall decor. Minted’s community of independent artists have created many works using this technique in subject matters that feature foggy mountains, wild west horse stampedes, abstract waves, and seascapes like the one highlighted below.
Achieve a sense of symmetry and uniformity with a twist. In the diptych pairing below, you will notice that the color sequence and design are mirrors of each other. While both prints aren’t exact mirrored replicas of each other, the effect is still achieved. Our wall art prints allow you to create this modern and chic look to your home or office decor.
Art that showcases a progression in movement or time can give the illusion that your wall decor is alive. Similar to techniques used in a sequence of stop-motion photography or a flipbook of sketches, consider hanging art pairings that depict a scene unfolding in slow motion. This will give the viewer the opportunity to engage with a story that is being told through the artwork. Photography of a wave crashing is a fantastic example of this before-and-after look. Other examples may include capturing a similar scene at noon and midnight or pairing an image of a scene in the summer with the same scene in the winter.
Some people are drawn to a particular style of art, and luckily our curated collection of art pairs covers everything from drawings to watercolor and photography. Particular mediums allow you to add a unique personality to a room. For example, a collection of bright and whimsical watercolor paintings might work perfectly in a child’s playroom where creativity and imagination are encouraged. In our below diptych example, both abstract pieces share similar heavy brushstroke techniques and liberal use of white space. While one painting depicts flowering blooms, the other hints at an ocean scene. While flowers don’t seem to pair naturally with a crashing wave, the fact that both pieces are semi-abstract and were created using similar color palettes and painting techniques allows them to pair beautifully with one another.
The sky, or shall we say the wall space, is the limit when it comes to choosing how many art pieces you want to combine. When following one of the styling themes highlighted above, you should be able to successfully assemble wall art in eye-catching ways. Take a look at what art pairs of 4, 5, and over 6 pieces are sometimes referred to:.
As you go down the journey of creating a diptych or triptych art look of your own, don’t be shy in asking us for help! Through our free Art Styling program, we encourage you to send us a photo of your wall and we will provide valuable recommendations directly from our team of art stylists. Based on the answers you provide in a short survey, we will search through our entire database of limited edition artwork and present you with a sample of prints we think will complement your style and wall perfectly.
We also are excited to introduce a new styling tool that lets you visualize what specific art pairs and combinations will look like on the wall. Choose from our database of over 50 photos depicting wall art arrangements with blank canvases. We have arrangements for every room in the house. You can then swap in different art selections to render on those blank canvases in an infinite number of combinations. Get a great visualization of what your diptych will look like on the wall before you complete your purchase!