The Importance of Framing Art Properly

Photo Courtesy of Sybaris Collection

From the Curator: One of my favorite parts of my job is taking the pieces to frame. My job is only concluded once the work of art is settled in the client’s location properly. I am often amazed at how the presentation of  artwork can affect he piece positively, or even make the piece look bad. Experience has taught me that showcasing a work of art is almost as important as selecting the piece itself.

When selecting a work of art to be hung on a wall, the frame may be overlooked. But do you realize how much the right (or wrong) frame can affect the overall appearance of the art, changing the experience and emotion which the collector is striving for in placing the work in that specific location? Instead of an afterthought, a frame must truly be considered as important as the work itself.

Framing as Part of the Work Itself

When you consider works you have seen displayed in museums and galleries, there are likely some specific pieces which stand out. Gilded gold frames, industrial metal frames, and even the lack of a frame are only a few of the varieties you have seen. Now, imagine those works with something totally different; does that change your perception of the work itself? Absolutely. This demonstrates how important the right frame means for a work of art.

Factors in Framing

When you look deeper into the art of framing (and we shall call it art here), you will consider several factors in choosing a frame or choosing a framed work.

  • Is the frame artistic? The frame may reflect the style of the work itself, especially for works created during the 18th and 19th Artists and owners alike considered the frame to be an extension of the artwork itself and took pride in placing works in complementary frames, with specific styles of frames designated for specific works. There was pride in the frames themselves, with much care and artistry dedicated to the frame.
  • Does the frame suit the work? A frame can truly change the feeling of a work of art, drawing the viewer into the art, or distracting the viewer from it. It can provide the viewer with cohesion within the work, setting boundaries for the action, highlighting (or distracting from, if incorrectly framed) the scene. If the work invokes a strong feeling, either positively or negatively, does the frame support that? These factors are important to consider, whether you are purchasing a work already framed, or considering framing (or replacing a frame) a work yourself.
  • Is the frame original to the art? When you find a work of art which is framed, whether it be an original frame or a replacement from a later time, does it truly fit the work it holds? Works which are being re-sold may have been placed in a nondescript frame to attract a wider range of potential buyers, with the thought that the frame would be replaced.
  • Does the frame protect the work or possibly cause damage? Each type of artwork requires a different style of conservation. Some pieces, like works on paper and photographs, benefit from protective glass, while oil paintings may be damaged by the pressure of glass against the medium. You may find that a change in framing style will preserve the work more effectively.

Styles of Framing

There are many schools of thought when it comes to framing style, and the frame you choose should reflect your taste, just like the work it is showcasing. However, there are several popular styles to choose from today which are worth mentioning here:

Full-Bleed Framing

This was originally used for displaying prints, named as such for allowing the art to “bleed” under the edge of the frame. However, with modern technology can be used for any number of mediums, including metal and acrylic.


This classic method of enhancing works has been used to provide a standardized frame with any shape and size of work. For small pieces, mattes provide the viewer with a built-in amplifier, providing a focusing quality to the piece and adding impact to the colors and lines within the work. This also gives the collector an opportunity to tie several pieces together with similar sized frames, no matter the uniqueness of the individual works.

Float Mounting

Sometimes a collector will purchase a print, photograph, textile, or piece with uneven or weathered edges, or wishes to emphasize the texture or shape of the work. When floating over the matte, the work stands out and those edges and texture are brought forward as an integral part of the artwork.

Personal Taste Reflected in Framing

No matter what you choose, the frame for your art is truly a personal choice. Today, the traditional rules of a specific genre only working in a similarly styled frame have gone out the door. You will find abstract pieces framed in ornate, gilded frames, and classics edged by simple, black metal frames. Especially in instances where the frame holds little artistic value to the piece, don’t feel bound by tradition. Express yourself with your artwork AND your frame!

With the help of framing experts, you can protect and enhance your fine art, protecting your investment and providing you with years of enjoyment. Sybaris Collection can help you through this process, including professional assistance from choosing your artwork, framing decisions, and even where to display it. Let us guide you through your journey in collecting beautiful and unique pieces!