Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016

2.19.2009

To Frame or Not to Frame

In terms of aesthetics, not necessarily conservation, another option when displaying art is to ditch the frame. (Even the always polished editors at Southern Accents have discussed this approach on occasion.) It is usually a less formal look, and of course in the case of contemporary abstract art, "going frameless" is often considered the sleekest thing. Clearly it's more economical.

But sometimes a classic gilt frame can be a stunning counterpoint to modern art.

As Emily says, "Frames are works of art in themselves. If you need to add a frame to a painting, you can really add a touch of your own personality and taste to the piece."

As long as the frame doesn't detract from the art, have fun experimenting. Ask a framer to show you a variety of moldings and see which widths and finishes are most pleasing with your painting. (Gilded moldings have different undertones, some skew toward red, some are clearer and brighter.)

Coleen Rider has a great print of Matisse's Design for cover of Exhibition: "H. Matisse," 1951, (gouache on paper, cut-and-pasted) in a slightly unexpected gilt frame. I think the gold is a refreshing choice here, as opposed to black.

For me, a mix of unframed art with very decorative gilt frames on other pieces -- whether a mirror or painting, grouped on the same wall or simply juxtaposed in one room -- is always nice. I posted this image from Elliott Puckette's house just the other day, but it perfectly illustrates the concept.

The painting in the first two images is from Annie Butrus' Peachtree Trail series.

Puckette's house was photographed by Anita Calero, as seen in Elle Decor, October 2000.

18 comments:

Blushing hostess said...

I am a framer, even if it is a light, barely noticeable sort of thing. If I kept a more modern decor however,...

mary said...

I just love your posts - I don't know if I have told you that recently.....
mix it up.

Style Court said...

Appreciate that Mary. Thanks so much.

Style Court said...

Blushing Hostess -- it is such a subjective thing. Love hearing everyone's different takes.

stacy said...

hmmm...I love unframed in personal spaces, in public spaces I like a gallery wall so much.

Karena said...

I agree with all comments really, it just depends on the art. I used to design custom framing using the very best of Roma. European Arts and Larson Juhl. Some Contemporary gallery wrapped pieces can ceratinly stand alone and I like that look!

fromtherightbank said...

I'm with you - I like a mix of both, as well as a mix of different styles of frames.

columnist said...

I like frames, personally. But I also tend towards symmetrical hanging, so that shouldn't surprise. I know it's personal taste, but I think even a very simple, barely noticeable frame is important. And I'm all for elaborate frames with modern art too. To me framing is like "staging" - as in placing objet d'arts on stands, however unimportant. The staging makes them into masterpieces!

pve design said...

At the NY Moma yesterday admiring so many unframed works. Some museum goers were even looking and inspecting the sides of the canvas. I think leaving a work unframed has pluses, when the art is on the side too.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Courtney - I like the thoughtul mix. You are really acquiring some great pieces.

The Peak of Chic said...

I'm for a mix too. I leave my larger canvases unframed- both for aesthetic and monetary reasons. Framing can be a bit price prohibitive. But on my smaller and medium sized pieces I usually frame them. Interesting to think about!

Easy and Elegant Life said...

I also like those tabletop (and larger) easels as a sort of half-way measure.

I have a stack to frame as soon as things pick up.

Brilliant Asylum said...

Your Annie Butrus is lovely. I think it looks perfect as is.

Style Court said...

Thanks Millie -- everyone has had great input here.

Chris, I think Peter Dunham uses easels sometimes :)

Patricia -- thanks too.

Everyone -- have a great weekend!

Things That Inspire said...

Your new painting looks great! I was hoping to get a glimpse of it.

Many of the artists that I work with do not frame their pieces, they use gallery wrapped canvas (but I do focus almost exclusively on contemporary art). It works well for the artist, because they do not incur the expense of a frame, and it also allows for the painting to be appreciated just for itself. I can't tell you how many times I have seen a perfectly lovely painting almost ruined by pairing it with an awful or cheap frame.

I have also been asked many times whether gallery wrapped canvases can be framed. Of course! I often like those floating frames - very thin - with contemporary art, because they give a painting a little bit of boundary and definition, but do not compete with the painting.

Things That Inspire said...

I also think that it is important to be able to see beyond the frame if a painting you love is already framed, but you don't like it. Some artists purposely frame with very inexpensive frames, thinking that the person who purchases the painting will change out the frame.

It is quite easy (although not always inexpensive) to reframe a painting. My favorite framers are Fred Reed in Atlanta; they have so many beautiful frames, and provide expert advice on frames that would suit each piece of art.

Style Court said...

Things that Inspire -- thanks all around!

maison21 said...

couldn't agree more- i love an ornate gilt frame on an abstract work, but if one frames all the works in a home that way it looks forced, and very grandma-esque. a nice mix of unframed as well as framed- both simply and lavishly- always seems to work best for me.