When people speak about framing something, they are talking about putting things into context, making a framework that helps another to understand the subject. Phrases like “let me frame this another way,” or “First we need to build the framework,” all allude to the importance of framing to organize and express what can sometimes be challenging to understand or very abstract.
Framing to Draw Attention
In the context of artwork, framing helps the viewer to fully realize the depth of whatever it is they are looking at. When you place a frame around an object of art on the wall, you are saying, “Here, look at this. This is something special. This area is different than all the rest of the space on this wall.” It sounds like such a simple concept, and yet it is just as profound as styling the hair to frame the face. “This is where you should look. This is where the story is.”
How Frames Tell Stories
Different frames tell different stories, whether you are talking about the hair around a face or a frame around a piece of artwork. How you frame something tells a back story of how you personally view that art. It can also help tell the story of the art itself when you choose a frame that has attributes in common with the artwork.
For example, if you are framing a traditional piece of art, such as from a classic master or a lithograph of an ancient masterpiece, you might choose a traditional wooden frame that complements and speaks to the era in which the art was created. In the case of a small lithograph, a beveled mat around the perimeter of the frame can help to enlarge the framed area so that the entire work of art takes up a larger area on the wall where it is to be hung.
If on the other hand, you’re framing a modern work of art, your frame can successfully be more contemporary, helping to tell the story of the state of the ages when that art was made. Framing can be unconventional as well as modern. Placing modern art behind a riveted plexiglass frame, perhaps even lit with LED lighting, really highlights that artwork’s creation and existence in the industrial age.
Frames and Emotion
The connection between frames and emotions is strong, too. A frame can help to convey the emotion of a piece of art, or it can subdue the strong feelings that a painting imparts. Some strong paintings that depict passion or strength can be almost too much for the viewer to bear unless it is framed with a bold, wide frame that slightly minimizes the power of the painting.
Finally, where you hang your framed artwork influences how that artwork is perceived. Giving a framed work of art center stage over a fireplace mantle tells the observer that this particular work of art is of particular importance to your life. Conversely, placing a smaller framed print on a narrow wall or along a hallway sends a message of pausing momentarily to observe, but continuing on your path.
The frame is the final yet most important part of displaying artwork in your home. Use frames to their most advantageous potential to get the most from every piece of art you hang.