February 11, 2014

Today's Tuesday Tip - "Framing"

This is not going to be a hands-on lesson in proper framing technique. The framing of artwork is a highly personal thing.  Some artists like minimal containment and some take a more over-the-top approach.  I fall into the later group.  I am what you might call a frame fetishist.

 I have lived in the Baltimore metro area most of my life and I have walked the hollowed halls of the Baltimore Museum of Art often and often.  The Cone collection is a particular favorite of mine.  It is renowned for its early 20th century works by Picasso, Braque, Matisse and their followers.  When then BMA Director Arnold Lehman and Deputy Director Brenda Richardson, who supervised the 1986 renovation of the museum's Cone Wing, decided to jettison the ornately carved gilt frames put on by Gertrude Stein and the Cone sisters in favor of modern strip frames, thinking that "of course the artists surely meant for them to be presented in a more modern simple frame."  The hue and cry was deafening.  I was leading the cheer when in 1999 new director Doreen Bolger returned the paintings to their original  frames which had mercifully been preserved for such an occasion. I Don't think every work of art should be framed to the extreme. Indeed much of my early work is stripped with lattice or simple aluminum but sometimes an overblown big honking frame is called for.

Here is an example of my penchant for the extreme.  We bought this diminutive watercolor by reclusive Smith Island artist Reuben Becker years ago.  The charming little painting is just 4" x 4".

watercolor by Reuben Becker 4" x 4"  1992

However, after we had our way with it, the painting garnered some respect with it's filigree lined mat and hefty gilt frame.

Another example is a piece done by Baltimore artist Steve Waugh.

watercolor by Steve Waugh  3 1/2" x 4"  1987

Too much, you say?  Maybe, but that's the way, uh huh, uh, huh,
I like it.


Katherine Harra said...

Interesting and useful examples. I'm a plain-frame-Jane person, but I expect a lot of that is budget-oriented. Oh, and of course for the kind of competitions I enter, one frames very simply.
I usually see frames like you have here being used without any mat, regardless of the size of the work. I think the mat is making ALL the difference for me, giving the poor little artwork room to be seen and to breathe.

Mark Adams said...

I agree, Katherine. The mat really makes these little pieces. Thanks for the comment.

smellyrhinostudio said...

Great post, Mark! I really love the gilded frames! I especially love large mats and frames on small paintings, it's a good pairing to really force you to view the tiny masterpiece!

Diane Hoeptner said...

Oh dang, much ado-- But they are gorgeous!