In an article for Christie’s, Emma Crichton-Miller described frames as the ‘Cinderellas’ of the art world. “They do a tremendous amount of work,” she said and we completely agree. Frames are a key ingredient in the brilliant experience created by the artwork for the viewer. Not only do they enhance the final look of the painting, they also protect it. More often than not, a frame can even add to the monetary value of the painting. Essentially an integral part of the work of art it accommodates, a frame is as important as the art itself.
Like Eli Wilner, CEO of Wilner & Co., a New York frame dealer said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, “the best frames are an extension of the art they surround, not its antithesis”. The right frame can significantly augment the appearance of a painting and the wrong one can completely ruin it, which is why, as an art collector or the owner of an original work of art, you should give it the importance it deserves.
Now that we have established the role of a frame, the following information will help you choose the perfect one for your original work of art.
The Importance Of Framing
We have already mentioned the several reasons why framing is essential. However, there is much more to a frame than just adding to the aesthetic value of the art or providing a suitable structure.
The frame can be a key factor in molding the impression of the viewer. It can suggest the value attached to the work of art and in fact, even the setting that it is present in; e.g. an exquisitely engraved frame is a sign of wealth and high social status. A frame that compliments the painting it contains also reflects on the personality of the art collector or home owner. It shows your dedication and interest in art and even echoes your sound artistic judgment.
Lindsay Griffith, a specialist of print at Christie’s says, “If you’re going to spend money on a piece of art, spend money on framing it.” Whether you’re an art collector or acquire original works for the purpose of decorating and creating a certain atmosphere in your home, the quality of the frame should be one of your main focus points. A bad quality frame can actually harm the painting it encompasses. The work might start developing molds and the paint might start cracking. Original art does not come cheap and you do not want to see a prized possession ruined just for the sake of saving a couple hundred dollars. The work of art, if not in its pristine condition, also ceases to be of any value as an art investment.
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The Right Frame
Finding a frame that compliments the work of art can be a challenging task. There are a number of aspects to be considered like the medium of the artwork, the dimensions of the frame, the physical appearance of the frame and even the material used to make the frame. It is very easy to get caught up in the details and the simple task of framing a work of art can end up becoming quite overwhelming. Here is a point-by-point guide to help you find the right frame.
First and foremost, you need to consider how you are going to get the artwork framed. If you have plenty of experienced, you can go ahead and do the framing yourself. However, if you have even the slightest of doubts, we suggest you take the help of professional framers. Look for the best framing services in your area and discuss your requirements with them. Never rush the process.
Different materials require different kinds of framing. Make sure you understand the basics before you commit to anything at the framers.
Artworks on paper, prints and photographs require more stability and structure. They are always framed using mount boards and glass. A mount board is like a cardboard border that is placed inside the frame, just under the glass sheet. Canvases and canvas boards on the other hand do not require mount boards. They can also be framed without glass.
You should research about the options available to you beforehand. In order to achieve the best quality frame, make sure you ask the framers to incorporate acid-free mount boards and UV protective glass. Mount boards that are acid-free provide extra protection to the work of art in terms of moisture and external substances. It is recommended to make use of UV protective glass to avoid the artwork being affected by sunlight. Another thing to look out for is the type of wood being used. It also helps to read up on the latest trends in the market.
Which Material Is The Best?
Speaking of materials available in the market, there are a lot of options available to you even in terms of the core material of the frame. From metal to wood to ceramic, you will find frames of every kind possible. The more important thing to consider is the quality of the product over its aesthetic value. A metal frame might go really well with your contemporary and edgy work of art, but in the long run, it can become rusty and brittle and also cause harm to the art. In our experience, wood is the best and the safest material to go with.
The Art Is The Star Of The Show
We have been stressing about the importance of framing throughout this article. However, you need to keep in mind that ultimately, the art is the star of the show. The frame should not be so extravagant so as to overshadow the painting. This will completely defeat the purpose of the frame. For instance, a neon green frame for a minimalistic painting in dull tones, is a bad idea. It will instantly attract the viewer’s attention towards itself, completely outshining the painting in the process.
The Appearance Of The Frame
Lastly, as we have mentioned before, choose a frame that compliments the art. The style of the frame should be in accordance with the style of the art. An antique crafted frame with a contemporary work of art will certainly not do justice to the art or to the frame. The color and the dimensions of the frame too, need to be considered carefully. The best way to choose the color of the frame is to simply pick a shade from the painting itself. This makes the frame look more like an extension than a boundary. As far as the width of the frame is concerned, the rule of thumb is wider frames for larger paintings and thinner frames for smaller painting. This is advised so that the frame and the painting look proportionate to each other.
With all that said, we would also like to remind you to enjoy the entire experience. Don’t be afraid to experiment and take chances. When it comes to art, there are no hard and fast rules for anything. The only two things to consider while framing art are the protection of your work and the value the frame adds to it. Remember, framing is the chance for you to take the place of the artist. Like Susan Vreeland said, “And what’s the last thing you do in making a painting? You put a frame around it.”
Are you having trouble choosing the right frame? Can’t decide between a sleek black and a classic wooden frame? Ask us!
Need some specific advice regarding your art collection or help in starting afresh? Benefit from our curatorial services! To know more, contact us at [email protected]
Are you looking to start an art collection? Do you need more essential tips on protecting and maintaining works of art? Watch out for upcoming Caring For Your Art articles in Curator’s Tips on ARTmine.
Tanya Singh is a budding art historian and writer. She is currently pursuing her postgraduate studies at the LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. With a versatile portfolio, she has over three years of experience in writing as well as editing.