Choosing a frame doesn’t have to be scary. Use this simple guide to make the right decisions.
You can thank ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans for art framing because they started the practice. Frames became more elaborate during the Renaissance in Europe and were often designed to compliment the artwork. Ornate frames featuring intricate carvings and gilded finishes became popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly for religious artwork and portraits of nobility.
In the 19th century, the development of mass-produced frames made them more affordable and accessible leading to. This led to a democratization of art and an increase in demand for frames to display art. In the 20th century, modern art movements such as cubism and abstract expressionism challenged traditional framing conventions. Some artists chose to forgo frames altogether or experiment with new materials and shapes.
Today, framing remains an important aspect of displaying and protecting artwork. The range of available frames is vast with options ranging from ornate antique designs to sleek and modern styles.
Why is it important to frame artwork?
Not all artwork needs to be framed. In fact many contemporary artworks are never framed. However, framing artwork shouldn’t be overlooked because when done correctly it adds value.
- Protection: Framing artwork protects it from damage because the frame acts as a barrier between the artwork and the outside world. A frame prevents dust, dirt, and other debris from coming into contact with the piece. Done correctly, the right frame protects the artwork from moisture and UV radiation, which can cause fading or discoloration.
- Preservation: A frame can help preserve the artwork by providing support and stability, including warping, bending, or cracking over time. A frame also protects the corners of canvas artworks from become damaged.
- Aesthetics: A frame provides a more “finished” look, enhancing the visual appeal of the artwork. The frame should complement the artwork with its color, texture, or dimension. The right frame can draw the viewer’s attention to the artwork by providing a visual boundary between the piece and its surroundings, especially if displayed on wall coverings.
- Display: A frame can make it easier to hang the artwork on a wall or place it on a tabletop or shelf. Additionally, a frame creates a cohesive look when displaying multiple pieces of non-series artworks together.
Framing artwork helps to preserve and enhance its value. The right frame protects artwork from damage, preserving it for future generations.
What type of frames are available?
SOOO MANY! I use Bruce White Galleries in Clawson, MI and when I walk in I’m always in awe but not overwhelmed because I know the type of frame I’m looking for. Plus, framing is what Bruce has done for over 30 years so I trust him and his staff or provide targeted options. Just look at all of the frames (and that’s only one room…)
Don’t get nervous! Just because there’s never ending choices, there truly is a method to the madness. Let’s start with the most common types of frames.
- Wood frames: This classic choice is made from different types of wood, including cherry, oak, mahogany, and maple. Wood frames are versatile and can be stained or painted to coordinate with the artwork and/or decor.
- Metal Frames: Not necessarily always more modern, metal frames are stronger than wood and usually made of aluminum, brass, or stainless steel. They are lighter weight than wood so are a good choice for larger artworks.
- Plastic Frames: These frames are affordable and come in a wide range of colors and styles. They are lightweight and durable, making them a popular choice for framing inexpensive pieces like posters.
- Shadow Box Frames: If you need to frame 3D objects such as sculptures, fiber artworks, or mixed media look into shadow boxes. They protect the work while allowing the viewer to see various sides of the work.
- Ornate Frames: When you’d like something more intricate and decorative choose a frame that’s more ornate. They are popular for framing artwork that has a classic or vintage feel.
- Acrylic Frames: Acrylic frames are similar to plastic frames but are made from a higher quality material. They are lightweight and shatter-resistant, making them ideal for high-traffic areas like commercial lobbies.
These are just a few of the many types of frames available. When choosing, consider the room’s decor, the frame’s purpose and the personality you’re trying to convey.
Do you have artwork to display that cannot be framed? Read this article.
If you’re thinking of a wood frame, here’s some things to take into consideration.
Wood is the most popular type of framing material and there are certain art styles that may look better in a wood frame. Here are a few examples:
- Traditional: Wood frames are a classic choice for traditional pieces, such as landscapes, portraits, and
still life artworks. Ornate, carved wood frames can add to the classic, timeless feel of the artwork.
- Rustic or natural: If the artwork has a rustic or natural feel, such as a landscape with lots of earth tones, a wood frame can enhance that vibe. A natural wood frame with a distressed finish can add to the rustic, natural feel of the artwork.
- Warm tones: Wood frames in warm, natural tones, such as cherry or walnut, can complement artwork with warm color schemes, such as earthy reds, oranges, and yellows.
- Texture: Wood frames can also complement artwork with texture, such as oil paintings or mixed media pieces. The grain and texture of the wood can add another layer of visual interest to the artwork.
Of course, these are just general guidelines, and ultimately the choice of frame depends on the specific artwork and the desired aesthetic. It’s always a good idea to experiment with different frame styles to see what looks best for a particular piece of artwork.
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It’s always a good idea to experiment with different frame styles to see what looks best. If you can bring the artwork to the framer they’ll have moulding samples to hold to the artwork.
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Does the artwork lend itself to a metal frame? Let’s see.
Metal frames are often associated with modern and contemporary artwork, and work particularly well with certain styles:
- Minimalist: Metal frames are often used with minimalist artwork, as they provide a clean, sleek look that doesn’t detract from the simplicity of the artwork.
- Industrial or urban: Metal frames can also work well with artwork that has an industrial or urban vibe, such as cityscapes or abstract pieces with metallic or geometric elements.
- Black and white photography: Metal frames in black or silver can complement black and white photography, particularly if the artwork has a modern or minimalist feel.
- Cool tones: Metal frames in silver, chrome, or brushed steel can complement artwork with cool color schemes, such as blues, greens, and grays.
A Variety of Artworks
When it comes to choosing the best frames for paintings, there are a few factors to consider, such as the style of the painting, the size of the artwork, and the overall aesthetic of the space where it will be displayed. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Consider the style of the painting: Different styles of painting may benefit from different types of frames. For example, ornate, gilded frames may work well with traditional or classical paintings, while minimalist frames may be more appropriate for modern or contemporary art.
- Choose a frame that complements the artwork: The frame should enhance the painting, not detract from it. Consider the colors and tones in the painting, and choose a frame that complements or contrasts them in a pleasing way.
- Take the size of the artwork into account: The size of the frame should be proportional to the size of the painting. A small painting may look overwhelmed by a large, ornate frame, while a large painting may need a substantial frame to provide balance and structure.
- Consider the space where the painting will be displayed: The frame should also be chosen with the overall aesthetic of the room in mind. Consider the colors and style of the furnishings, as well as the overall mood of the space, and choose a frame that fits in with the overall decor.
- Think about the materials: Frames can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and plastic. Consider the durability and longevity of the materials, as well as the cost and maintenance requirements.