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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Art of the Frame

Not long ago I had a debate with someone at a dinner party about picture frames.

He insisted that the frame should never be noticed. But I often make a point of noticing frames! So I wondered – if that were the case – why, for example, were Renaissance frames so detailed and carefully crafted? Why, then, have so many masterpieces in the history of art been mounted in frames which, themselves, could be considered masterpieces?

The frame should enhance the painting by expanding on the intent of the painting. Often, the frame was (and I suppose sometimes still is) conceived as an integral part of the work, not infrequently designed by the artist h/self.

To prove my point, I wish I could take him to the Alte Pinakothek in Munich sometime between Jan 28th and April 18, 2010, to see their Art of the Frame exhibition. The show will focus on the art and history of frames from four centuries, encompassing 16th-century case frames to Classicist and Empire style frames.

A selection of 92 frames dating from between 1600 and 1850 will highlight frames which are of special importance either stylistically or historically in the development of frame design -- from highly elaborate ones to miniature versions. Of particular note will be the Dutch cabinet and Lutma frames, as well as inlaid examples from the Rococo period.

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