How to pick the right frame for an artwork

Firstly, not every work needs to be framed. This includes artworks that have been painted up to the edge, leaving no border margin. Framing them can hide the details on the edge.
Last Updated : 12 April 2024, 22:21 IST
Last Updated : 12 April 2024, 22:21 IST

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The style and strength of a frame can impact how the artwork going inside it looks. Experts share some factors to keep in mind while picking frames. 

Assess the artwork

Firstly, not every work needs to be framed. This includes artworks that have been painted up to the edge, leaving no border margin. Framing them can hide the details on the edge. 

“If you decide to frame a canvas, including those which are painted till the edge, use a floater frame in a solid colour. Avoid ornate or detailed frames,” says art curator Siddharth G from Chennai. Floater frames have a gap between the artwork and the frame itself. They give an illusion that the artwork is floating within the frame. 

“If a painting is too complex or detailed, it is ideal to leave it without a frame. A frame can add another layer of complexity to the look,” he adds. 

Choose right colours

Frames are available in multiple colours, styles and materials.

An artwork and a frame are often viewed together “as a unit” and so it is important they complement each other, says Siddharth. “If you don’t plan properly, the frame can either overpower the artwork or downplay the look of the artwork,” explains Girija K, an interior design consultant from Mumbai.

If the colour and style of a frame distract viewers from the artwork, then you have selected the wrong frame. “For art prints, choose a colour that matches the colours in the artwork. Black or white frames should accompany black and white photographs. In the case of coloured photographs, look for a dominant colour and use a frame in that colour,” she adds.

For drawings or illustrations, use a frame with a mount. “This keeps the work from rubbing against the glass and causing damage to the paper,” she adds.

Oil paintings tend to be heavier, so go for bulkier frames. “Look at the dominant colour in the piece and its overall composition while picking a frame,” Girija notes. 

Space check

When choosing a frame, keep in mind the space where you plan to showcase the artwork. A monochrome frame goes well in a room with grey and white shades. A rustic-themed artwork in a wooden frame will look good in any room, says Siddharth. When in doubt, go with a black or white frame. These colours suit most decor themes, he says. 

The decision to choose a frame with thick or thin border is determined by aesthetics. Cost is another factor. A beech wood frame is cheaper than one made from rosewood or teakwood.

“The depth of a frame depends usually on the type of artwork being displayed. A photograph does not need a thick or deep frame,” Siddharth adds.

Beat the humidity

Frames help protect an artwork from humidity and heat. They can also combat mould, prevent an oil painting from cracking, or delay the colours from fading.

“If you have a room with a heater or a fireplace, frame your artwork with glass on top. Avoid placing artworks too close to a light source as it can damage them overtime,” says Girija.  

To clean the frames, use a soft and lightly damp cloth. Do not use any cleaning agent, she warns.

Looks at themes

The frames can also lend gravitas to an artwork. “Most historical works can be protected in a thick wooden frame. For artworks on religious or royal themes, golden frames work well,” adds Siddharth.

Published 12 April 2024, 22:21 IST

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