To Frame or Not to Frame?

September 24th, 2006

Three Ginger Pots by Hanneke van Oosterhout

On the question of how to frame pictures for exhibition, Angela Ferreira commented:

I think the best way to exhibit any painting to appeal to a wide variety of buyers is to display it with a very simple effective frame, or leave the canvas unframed. Framing can be distracting and might not appeal to some — most people like buying a painting and then framing it to their own house style.

Of course, a painting only has to appeal to one buyer — the one who takes it home. In this way, a painting is different from a book or a song. Most people know how challenging it is to frame a picture. If the artist does a good job in choosing a frame, this can save the buyer a lot of effort and decision-making.

The right frame can enhance the value of a painting. But the artist takes a risk in framing, as Angela implies. The time and money invested on the frames may not be well spent.

Should artists consider the frame as an integral part of their work and strive to get it right, whatever the risk or complexity? Or is it better to leave framing to the buyer?

[See the poll at the top of this blog, right column]
[See also post on Photostream]

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8 Responses to “To Frame or Not to Frame?”

  1. Candy Minx Says:

    I tend to agree with Angela on this…about being minimal in framing so the potential owner can choose thei own style. Or sometimes I wonder if someone else other than the artist picks the format for display.

    You know the old adage about buying a painting to match the furniture…well actually, in decor, designers tend to choose framing or other formats to match the decor…not the actual painting.

    Once my boyfriend had a friend hang his art for an opening, and his friend did this incredible wire structure to display all the drawings and paintings. It was stunning!

  2. Angela Ferreira Says:

    I have to add that I do agree that framing can make any painting look hundred times better.
    It depends where you going to display it too. In a museum the art is only on show so it needs frame automatically for presentation and added value so investing in expensive frames might be worth for the curator.
    In a gallery the main goal is to sale the painting so the way you hang can make all the difference.

  3. Karl Zipser Says:

    So we agree that a frame can add value. The only question is if the artist show expend energy on this, or leave it to the buyer.

  4. blumoon Says:

    I would love to be able to frame my work, but I cannot afford to. If I could, it would be a simple frame.

    BTW, just wanted to let your know your RSS feed is still leading to your old site.

  5. Kris Shanks Says:

    My experience with talking to people who buy my paintings is that they are overwhelmed with the idea of finding their own frame, and would much rather I framed the paintings. I would prefer to display paintings unframed and let them speak for themselves – but there is a desire for convenience on the part of the art consumer.

  6. Parapluie Says:

    I recently sold a painting because the frame was artist made and really was a part of the whole.
    On the other hand I like painting on museum wrapped canvas and have been experimenting with how to incorporate them into the interior of my home. I thought maybe my paintings would frame life flowing in my space.

  7. Lisa Hunter Says:

    I’m unusual in this, but I hang all my paintings unframed. I find frames distracting, and leaving the work unframed helps me “see” the art.

    With works on paper, though, I’ll spend whatever I need to to have UV glass, acid-free materials, etc., to preserve the art.

  8. Karl Zipser Says:

    One useful function of a frame is to isolate a picture from the surroundings. Pictures without frames will have more influence on one another, which can make hanging them together more of a challenge. But this also opens possibilities. In a sense, the pictures can frame one another.