Contemporary gilding is an artistic technique that adds individuality and symbolism to modern-day art. Contemporary artists these days seek ample opportunity to use the brilliance of gold leaf and other metal leaf types to capture the regality and opulence of both traditionally sophisticated subjects and ordinary things. The results are astounding works that are very much as impressive as gilded art produced long ago.

Table of Contents

contemporary gilding

Gilding in Contemporary Art

Contemporary artists take on gilding using gold leaves and other metal leaf types in a variety of artistic arenas.

One of the most common ways that contemporary gilding is utilized is through architectural details. Thin sheets of pounded gold and other precious metals are often utilized for both indoor and outdoor architectural structures. These can be used to highlight certain areas of the structure or can compose the entire surface of the piece itself.

Lamps, ceilings, and monumental statues can all carry gild work completed by contemporary artists. Both oil gilding and traditional water gilding methods are often used to complete these projects. It is these types of works that give interior design pieces their elegant and visually-stunning appeal.

Another way that thin pounded precious material is used by contemporary artists is through artwork. Gold leaf, silver leaf, copper leaf, and the like are often applied to canvas artwork to add dimension and highlight to traditional paintings. In addition, it’s worth noting that metal leaves can easily affix to a variety of surfaces using the right type of size, otherwise known as adhesive. This means that you shouldn’t be surprised if you find gold leaf overlay on wood, steel, stone, glass, plaster walls, wall concrete, or other surface materials.

One final way you may see contemporary gilding used craftily is in the arena of furniture or antique renovation. Both furniture and antique frames and hardware are often restored or renovated using metal leaf. The original surface is sanded, dusted, primed, and covered using high quality gold leaf to create a stunning final product which may prove a major upgrade to the original. These are great ways to give a face-lift to interiors and add beauty and detail to small projects to make them look distinctly different from what they looked like before.

Gilding in Contemporary Crafts

Although modern gliding takes skill and know-how, it isn’t very difficult to get started with gliding at home. Even if you aren’t an artist by trade, the gilding process is fairly simple as long as you do your research and know a few tricks of the trade beforehand.

Simple pieces such as concrete planters, gilded drink coasters, or renovated mini statues are all great places to start when you want to take on gilded artworks. Remember that gold leaf can adhere to nearly anything provided that you use the proper adhesive to do so. Thus, gilding objects like jewelry boxes, photo frames, mirror frames, and even canvas surfaces are easily achieved using the right equipment and tools.

What Tools Are Needed For Gilding in Modern Art?

While gilding techniques date back to the Byzantine Empire, it is safe to say that our methods today look a bit different from ancient process. Though there are some methods that were used back then that may still work for us today, the modern day use of primer, adhesive size, and high quality metal leaf are the sustaining foundations for creating the beautiful gilded works we enjoy today.

Bear in mind that though many of the gold covered artworks you know today are covered in thin layers of gold, there are some pieces that may be made of solid gold throughout. Though this isn’t usually the case with most golden artworks you’ll see on display, there are some art pieces in the world that are formed (LINK) distinctly of pure gold and would require a great deal of wealth to purchase.

Contemporary Gilding: A Sight to Behold

Modern gilding is a technique used around the world to add a glint of sophistication and style to both ordinary and extraordinary artwork pieces. Using high quality metal leaf gives distinct attributes to stylistic artworks, making it suitable for interior and exterior decor, as well as traditional painted artwork, sculptures, and crafts.


What are the 3 methods of gilding?

There are many methods of gilding, but the three most common are hand gilding, electroplating, and chemical gilding. All have their pros and cons, as well as common uses.

What is the difference between gold leaf and gilding?

Gilding is the process by which you lay gold leaf. Gold leaf, however, is the metal leaf used in the gilding process.

In what ways can gold leaf be used in contemporary art?

Contemporary artists can use gold leaf in various ways, including on mediums like canvas, glass, marble, concrete, wood, and more. Some artists use gold leaf to create iconic artwork* while others may use it for interior or exterior design purposes. Because of the versatility of gold leaf, there really are very few limits as to what you can do with it. 

What surfaces can you apply gold leaf?

Gold leaf can be applied to canvas, wood, concrete, metal, glass, marble, and several other surface types. Just remember that if you choose to use gold leaf outdoors, you’ll need to use oil adhesive to ensure its longevity.

Does gold leaf need varnish?

If your gold leaf is 23.5 karats or higher, you shouldn’t apply any top coat or varnish to it. If you do, you risk it changing the appearance of your gold leaf in as little as a few years in the future. 

Get 10% OFF on your first order

Sign up to our newsletter and get 10% discount on your first order. Check your inbox for the discount code and use it at checkout!

*Terms and conditions apply

You have Successfully Subscribed!