A Guide to Framing Art and Hanging Unframed Gallery Wrap Style

Ignite by Robert Lyn Nelson

Art has the power to transform spaces, evoke emotions, and reflect the personality of its owner. Whether you’re a seasoned art collector or a first-time buyer, knowing how to frame and display your art can make a world of difference. In this blog post, we’ll explore two primary methods of showcasing artwork: traditional framing and the more contemporary unframed gallery wrap style. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of which approach best suits your art and space.

Framing Art: Timeless Elegance

Framing artwork is a classic choice that has stood the test of time. It not only protects your art from dust, dirt, and potential damage but also adds an extra layer of sophistication to your display. Here are some key considerations for framing your art:

1. Choose the Right Frame: The frame you select should complement your artwork while also fitting the style and decor of the room. Common frame materials include wood, metal, and plastic, each offering a unique look and feel. Remember that the frame’s color, texture, and thickness can greatly influence the overall presentation.

2. Matting Matters: Matting, the border that surrounds the artwork within the frame, can enhance the visual impact. A white or off-white mat can create a clean and classic look, while colored mats can add depth and contrast.

3. Custom Framing: If you have an artwork with non-standard dimensions or unique requirements, custom framing might be the best option. Custom frames allow you to create a truly bespoke presentation.

The Medium Matters

The type of medium used in a painting plays a pivotal role in determining whether or not it should be framed behind glass. Let’s break it down by medium:

Acrylic Paintings:

Under typical conditions, acrylic paintings on canvas don’t demand framing behind glass.

Varnishing adds a protective layer against dust and dirt, allowing for easy cleaning without harming the paint. UV-protective varnishes shield the artwork from sunlight, maintaining its vibrancy. Stretched canvases can be hung unframed or framed without glazing for a modern, minimalist look.

Consider framing behind glass only if the painting will be exposed to high temperatures, as acrylic paint may soften in such conditions.

Oil Paintings:

In most situations, framing oil paintings behind glass is unnecessary and can detract from their aesthetic appeal. Impasto oil paintings, with their thick textures, particularly benefit from remaining unframed. Allow oil paintings to breathe; framing behind glass may trap moisture, potentially degrading the paint and canvas. An exception is oil paintings on paper, which should be framed behind glass once completely dry to prevent trapped moisture.

Pastel, Charcoal, and Pencil Drawings:

These mediums are prone to smudging and require additional protection. Framing behind glass is recommended for pastel and pencil artwork on paper. UV-protective glass can prevent damage and resist fading. To avoid direct contact with the glass, use a mount or slip within the frame. Pastel artworks are delicate and benefit from professional framing to prevent damage.

Watercolour Paintings:

Watercolour paintings, typically done on delicate paper, must be framed under glass. Glass protects against moisture damage and physical contact, preventing colours from running. UV protective glass is advisable to prevent fading, preserving the subtle colour variations of watercolours.

Hanging Unframed Art: The Gallery Wrap Style

Gallery wrap style involves displaying artwork without a traditional frame or mat. The canvas is stretched tightly over wooden stretcher bars, creating a clean and minimalist look. This style has gained popularity in recent years, especially for contemporary and abstract pieces. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Ideal for Contemporary Art: Gallery wrap is an excellent choice for modern and contemporary artwork. It allows the focus to remain on the art itself, without the distraction of a frame.

2. Sides Are Key: When choosing gallery wrap, pay attention to the sides of the canvas. You can opt for the standard “mirrored” sides, where the image extends around the edges, or select a solid color that complements the artwork.

3. Sturdy Construction: Ensure that your gallery-wrapped canvas is well-constructed with sturdy stretcher bars to prevent sagging or warping over time.

4. Minimalist Appeal: The beauty of gallery wrap style lies in its minimalist appeal. This approach highlights the art itself and is well-suited for spaces where less is more.

Combining Both Styles

Don’t feel constrained by a single approach – it’s possible to combine both framed and gallery-wrapped art in the same space. Here’s how:

1. Grouping: Create visual interest by arranging framed and gallery wrap art in groups or clusters. Mixing styles can add a dynamic dimension to your decor.

2. Consistency is Key: Maintain a consistent theme or color palette to ensure that the art pieces work harmoniously together, regardless of their framing style.

3. Experiment: Feel free to experiment with different frames and canvases to discover what appeals to your personal taste and complements your space.

In the world of art, the choice between traditional framing and unframed gallery wrap style is a matter of personal preference, but it’s essential to consider the nature of the artwork and the ambiance you wish to create in your space. Framing adds a timeless elegance, while gallery wrap style offers a contemporary, minimalist approach. Whether you choose one style or a combination of both, remember that art is a reflection of your individuality, and there are no hard and fast rules. The most important thing is to create a space that resonates with your unique style and sensibilities.

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