Framing My Thoughts On Framing Paintings: An Article in “Realism Today”

Realism Today’s online magazine has published an article of mine, “A Frame-Maker’s Thoughts On Framing Paintings,” which aims to help painters think through the problem of framing their work. It begins,

If you’re a pictorial artist, you probably see picture framing as a problem. If you show in galleries, the frame is a big and bothersome expense.

But more than that, it’s an artistic problem — something that undeniably affects how your work is perceived, and even whether it’s perceived — but the very nature of which is outside and foreign to the art of painting.

The difference between a good frame and a bad one seems almost arbitrary — a matter of chance. The problem of the frame, most painters seem to think, boils down to how to avoid choosing the wrong frame — especially if you’re paying a lot of money for it.

Every problem is also an opportunity. Avoiding choosing the wrong frame means a chance to choose the right frame. And a frame, as I will argue, cannot be indifferent. A frame that is neutral or indifferent to the picture is a bad frame; it has failed the picture and is harmful to it.

The reason that’s true goes to the very nature of paintings and their relationship to the world. To the extent that the life of a painting depends on a vital relationship to the life around it, that life depends first of all on its immediate setting — that is, on the frame.

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