The Picture Frame

Or: the humble boundary between Art and reality

Recently I went on the hunt for some reference on picture frames and a trip to the Strand rewarded me with The Art of the Picture Frame by Jacob Simon. It was created to accompany an exhibition of the same name held at the National Portrait Gallery (UK) in 1996. Looking through the book It dawned on me instantly that I actually had no idea whatsoever what the history of the picture frame was, or indeed, why frames were invented in the first place. Since I picked up the book I’ve been intending to do a post on the origins of the frame. A concise summation of the info contained within the book, however, would be prohibitively difficult so instead I’ve decided to simply share some of the frames themselves and offer, instead of a summation, some related links. See below.

11.07. filed under: art. !. history.

I was working on a project back in ‘01-‘02 and frequently talked on the phone with a very nice young lady at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. It was closed to the public for rennovation—but still open for business.

I went to D.C. during that time and called my friend up. She walked me through the whole museum. Just me and her and the workmen.

Trivia: The NPG is in the original U.S. patent office. Wow!

I got to see some cool artifacts and patents, too.

I’ll never forget that afternoon. I did forget what any of the frames looked like though. Will have to check them out next time.


posted on 11.07 at 10:41 PM.

I am just reaching that point in my life where frames are becoming relevant. I recently aquired some prints and I’ve been wondering whether to frame them or just tack them onto the wall like I’ve been doing since I was 12.

There is nothing humble about these frames. Some of them must have taken longer to carve than the paintings they held.

posted on 11.08 at 05:22 AMPierce

I actually really like frames. Not so much gilded frames, but I do love a chunky black or dark red wood. I can’t calculate the number of frames I’ve found on the street and taken home over the years. Weird thing is very little of the artwork I’ve ever done has been made to be held in one of these, or any frame. Even my photographs.

posted on 11.08 at 09:21 AMjmorrison

Gilded frames are like antique furniture I guess. You can appreciate them but most of them wouldn’t suit your house. A clean wooden frame is a beautiful thing.

posted on 11.08 at 09:46 AMPierce

A frame can make or break a painting. But framemaking itself is such a great art. Here in Munich in the Pinakothek there are some HUGE paintings -almost as big as a small house. I am always amazed how the picture are ‘held’ by the huge frames.

posted on 11.12 at 10:53 AMorangeguru

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