To Frame or Not to Frame

Thoughts from our Founder: Vani Krishnamurthy

If you’ve ever owned an original work of art, you might have automatically assumed that it needed to be framed. After all, it’s an original, you’ve spent good money on it, and it’s going up on your wall. Framing it will give it a more professional look, and give it the attention that it deserves.

However, it isn’t always necessary to frame original works of art. In fact, we often
recommend that works on canvas remain unframed. Here’s why:

 CoCo Artist Laura G.'s work covers every inch of the canvas.

CoCo Artist Laura G.'s work covers every inch of the canvas.

It’s all part of the painting
Artists will often finish the edges of the painting that wrap around the canvas because they consider it to be part of the painting. For some artists, the canvas wrap creates a softer edge that actually goes better with their painting than an abrupt inner finish of a frame. Other artists will sometimes even include an interesting detail, like their signature, on that edge, which can’t be seen with a frame either.

 Some artists sign their work on the canvas edge.

Some artists sign their work on the canvas edge.

Feel the texture
Texture is an important part of many works of art, and putting these types of wall art behind glass can interfere with the artist’s creative intention. An artist you choose to work with might use thick layers of paint to create depth and reality to the image. Sometimes these layers of paint are even safe to touch carefully (something I love to do with my paintings at home). If the artist works with mixed media, the variety of textures generated by perhaps a collage of various items, is a large part of what makes that work of art what it is. Framing a work like this would essentially compromise it.

 Artist Sophia H. used acrylic, paper mache, moss, oil on canvas in her work,  January . She also uses seeds, pine needles, string and other found materials.

Artist Sophia H. used acrylic, paper mache, moss, oil on canvas in her work, January. She also uses seeds, pine needles, string and other found materials.

Keep the focus
Frames can be beautiful. That sometimes means that they may take the viewer’s focus away from the work of art at hand. It’s actually quite difficult to find a frame that complements a painting perfectly. To make your display emphasize the painting most, it’s best to not have it compete with a frame for attention.

Be closer
It may sound strange, but I like to feel as close as possible to a painting that I love. Just the smell of the media allows me to visualize what the artist put into the work. A glass frame, however, creates a physically minimal and yet emotionally tangible separation between the viewer and the work of art. A painting provides the viewer with more than a visual reward; it can entice all of your senses if you let it.