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Why Framing is so Important?

Accentuating the Artwork

The style, colour and material of a frame will always have a huge impact on the artwork itself. It can affect the mood of the work, or augment certain colours and elements of the painting, print, drawing or photograph. The frame that you select will finish the work, both visually and symbolically, and this final act is the last part of the creative process before the work is hung and exhibited.

There are many subtleties at play here as well, because of the powerful effect that a frame has upon an artwork. Take a jet-black polished metal frame; stern and unflinching, the clean minimal lines will add seriousness and style to the artwork. This may be perfect for a home or a gallery that wishes to highlight these internal features of the artwork itself. This choice is fitting for an atmospheric black and white photograph or an iconic minimalist canvas perhaps, but what about a lighter, more organic and freely flowing work?

Here, a lightly sanded ash frame with brilliant striations and a more handmade, roughly hewn aesthetic might be more appropriate. Whatever your preferences, it is pertinent to remember that the frame you choose has the power to heighten, harmonise or dampen the various elements that compose each individual artwork. The formal characteristics of any artwork, the colours, forms, textures and materials that go into making it, can always be accentuated by sensitive, well-chosen framing.

Tying together a series

Artworks are often created as series, as this allows an Artist to take on a similar aesthetic problem from many different angles. Picasso would often paint the same woman hundreds of times, and Cezanne painted Mont Sainte-Victoire throughout his entire life. In the work of any committed artist you will find repeated subject matter. Over time, these icons, figures and landscapes become larger and more important themes, and over the course of an Artist’s entire career, they can turn into the major defining imagery that turn the Artist from a person into an icon. Think Warhol’s Soup Can or Dali’s melting clocks.

When framing, it always helps to understand the artwork on many different levels. Framing a series of works that explore a similar theme, using the same kinds of frames, is a great way to add visual and conceptual continuity to the artworks you buy. It highlights the ideas of the Artist themselves, and allows you to style the works to suit your own tastes, and tie the series together as a whole.

Picture Series

Separating the image from its surroundings

A great Artwork can show you the world in a way that you have never seen before. Like a portal into another time and place, two-dimensional artworks are referred to time and time again as windows, and the perfect frame can really complete this metaphor. A great frame will accentuate the qualities of an artwork, it will harmonise it with its surroundings, but it will also separate it in a way that allows any viewer to look deeper into the work and take more from their experience.

A frame visually separates the work from the rest of the onlookers’ field of vision. This allows the ‘illusion’ of an artwork (the scene it shows, the image it represents etc) to become more realistic and effective. Our knowledge that this is an arrangement of forms, brushstrokes and colours, or pixels digitally printed on paper begins to fade, and we can be transported into a whole different world of sight, sound, smell, noise and feeling.

Cropping an image

Framing is the final act in the creative process, but it is also important in relation to the overall composition. When you take a sketch, a water colour image, or any other two-dimensional artwork and ‘crop’ it using the frame, you have to decide exactly where the frame and work will be positioned in relation to one other. The initial composition of any artwork is carefully and intuitively planned, but the framing can have a important effect on this starting framework. When you frame an artwork, you must think about how much of the work do you want the frame to cover, or whether you would prefer a floating frame, that display it in its entirety.

The latter image encases the work within a narrow, box like frame, and focuses attention onto the artwork as more than simply a flat image. This highlights the materiality and texture of the artwork. It is a popular method for contemporary galleries and artworks that wish to escape the idea that a two-dimensional artwork always offers an illusion of another place.

Final thoughts

Framing is an incredibly important step in the life of an artwork.

It finishes an image and creates a striking and meaningful work to hang on your walls or exhibit in a gallery. There are many aspects to take into consideration when you choose a frame that works for you, but keep in mind these points, and remember that a frame should empowers, accentuates and works with the artwork itself.

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