How to hang unframed Art?

The frame is what separates the image from the background. The frame holds the artist’s expression, allowing it to have its defined breathing space in our world.

The frame is also the finishing touch to a piece of art.

So what about unframed art. What happens when the representation has no point of entry, no delimitation?

Matisse’s Red Studio, unframed.

Henri Matisse, The Red Studio (1911), Issy-les-Moulineaux.

This painting is an insight into Matisse’s studio where we see various paintings hung left, right and centre, some framed some… unframed!

What type of frame is needed for Matisse’s painting of The Red Studio? Matisse would say: “none”. In fact, the lack of frame¬†for this painting is part of its message. Quite a contradictory move for the man who had previously said that “the four sides of a frame are among the most important parts of a picture. A painting or drawing included in a given space ought, therefore, to be in perfect harmony with the frame…”

To hang unframed art is to give the art a limitless environment. Framing The Red Studio would prevent our eyes from wandering freely in Matisse’s gravity defying environment.

Framing art has to be a thought out decision. We must know when to frame and when not to frame. We must understand how the frame will add or detract from the art we want to hang.

And if after good thought we think it best not to frame, then here are some tips on how to hang unframed art.

1. Let it breathe.

The safest and easiest way to hang unframed art is to give it room to breathe. Let your chosen art take over a whole wall¬†space and use the architecture of your home to frame it: wall, furniture, ceiling, coving, panels, staircase…

2. Frame it with space and symmetry

When you have pieces that do not sing the same tune then it is important to allow for a little more breathing space between each piece. Create generous and even gaps between your art to get the background (the wall) to act as a frame.

3. Create a cohesive message

If you are going to allow for less breathing space between your artworks, then you need to make sure that they’ll work as a whole: colour scheme, theme, message… The above picture is a good example of a job well done. The photos and paintings are in the same colour scheme, the theme of the images is cohesive and the frames, when present, don’t clash. You’ll notice that the green seating and the plants all contribute to invite the images into the room.

If you would like to find out more about the frame and its purpose, I invite you to read our previous post: What is the frame.

Book reference: Defining Edges by W.H Bailey.

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