Frame It

Adding the right frame to a piece of artwork is like finding the right secret ingredient for a designer cocktail. I’ve seen work that does not stand by itself elevated to sublime by presentation alone. Whatever you have, give it the right surroundings and it will do well.

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of framing a number of pieces of artwork. Each time I learn from the framer. First, I went to University Art to see what they would suggest. The framer selected frame stock that echoed shapes in each photo. For the first image, she keyed off the shape of the grapes and selected a frame that repeated that shape.

A black and white photograph of a stone sculpture of a nude woman holding grapes with a frame sample that has raised grape shapes on the border
Frame Echoes a Shape in the Image

For the second image she chose to repeat the shapes in the hair and braid.

A black and white photograph of a stone sculpture of a woman with braided hair and a frame that has raised art noveau shapes
Frame Echoes a Shape in the Image

While I found these possibilities interesting, I wasn’t satisfied with where attention flowed and the white of the matte was jarring. So I walked away. A few weeks later, I went to Dick Blick’s to see what possibilities might recommend.

We experimented with matte colors that matched the tone of the image. This allows attention to flow to the image and not to the border.

Black and white photograph of a stone sculture of a nude woman holding grapes framed by a sample of black matte board

We also played with repeating the dark/light tonal contrast in the image instead of repeating the shapes. The result was more unified.

Black and white photograph of a stone sculpture of a young woman's head framed by a sample of matte board and a sample of a silvery black frame.
Testing a Frame and Matte Board

I was very pleased with the final result which is still under wraps for now.

The three black and white photographs framed and wrapped in plastic ready to be installed.
Ready for Installation

These will eventually be placed together on site. The frame is just the first context to consider. The next context is placement on a 2D plane. The next larger context is placement and lighting within 3D space. Once these are officially up, I’ll post about the movement from the narrow view (image only) to the installed view (on the wall, lighted).  I can’t wait!

7 framed and wrapped photographs that are the best of 20 years of photographic work by me sit on the floor waiting to be hung
The Best of 20 Years of Photographic Work by Jennifer Hartnett-Henderson