While walking through a museum or gallery, one might see drawings or paintings made by an artist including captions which describe their specific artwork. However, rarely are there captions seen describing the frames in which these pieces are surrounded.
Chris Russo, a student artist at UIC, explained how he considers framework as its own form of art but believes that in the future, due to the trendy look of modern art, genuine and handmade frames will be seen as ancient.
“When I walk through the Art Institute of Chicago, I tend to notice the frames a lot more around the Renaissance paintings because they are more extravagant and include detail. I prefer modern art personally, and most modern art is evident on canvas without any frame at all,” said Russo.
Since 2000, the art and framing industry has declined by over 55% and the 19,800 framing businesses that were thriving at the turn of the century, has declined to 7,800 according to the data given by the world’s leading custom frame distributor, Larson-Juhl.
“With technology advancing at historic speeds in all electronic gadgets, and impulse buying online being at an all time high over the past 5 years, the market for framing continues to fade,” Larson-Juhl sales representative, Joe Petta said.
The frame industry has changed in the art world in the past decade as artists have begun to choose frames that will be minimalistic to further draw the viewer to the art piece itself rather than the frame taking away the overall affect of the artwork.
“If too much focus is placed on the frame or matte design, so as to distract the subject matter, then the framing package has failed its job,” Petta said.
Martina Nehrling, a Chicago artist whose pieces are shown in exhibitions around the city, has a distinct and colorful aesthetic toward her paintings and explains her opinion over the use of frames.
“The artwork I have been creating as of recent, has all been on canvas. My inspiration has been an imagery from my childhood. I use a lot of brightly colored paints and my brushstrokes are completed by using a vivid and thick technique. I want the artwork to appear to float rather than be pinned in,” Nehrling said.
Nehrling describes her artistic style as being “staccato” and having a sort of graphic quality in which would be taken away if a frame were to be added.
“The goal for each of my paintings is for the onlooker to see something almost three dimensional. Within my art, I am releasing the inner optimism I hold within,” Nehrling said. “With a white canvas, this is the easiest way to portray that. If I were to go with a frame I would make sure to choose one that aesthetically jives with the context of the room it is in.”
According to Bryan Gordy, fine frame maker for Larson-Juhl, a lot of artists have this state of mind in today’s age.
“I have been making frames all of my life. It is my art and I intend to keep at it until the day I die,” Gordy said.
According to Gordy, he used to create a majority of his frames for individual artists whose pieces would go into exhibits. Most consumers of his frames today, are those looking to buy a frame to surround a family portrait or a graduation picture.
“Everything is so sleek nowadays. You walk into a gallery, and every frame is black or a matte neutral tone…. or it is on a canvas board. I haven’t made a “sexy” frame in quite a while,” said Gordy laughing.
However, the process of making a frame is quite complex and involves a lot of wood cutting and time according to Gordy.
The overall future of the frame is still unknown, however sales representative Joe Petta said, “Although the fine art and frame industry continues to shrink, there will always be a need to preserve art and memories. Beautifully designed and constructed frames will always be in demand to enhance these important pieces of life.”