Framing Artwork

When is it okay to display an artwork unframed?


A gallery wrapped or museum wrapped canvas is fine for display without a frame. These two terms refer to a canvas wrapped around the stretcher bars and secured to the back rather than the sides. This type of wrapping leaves no visible staples or tacks on the sides.



What is the main purpose of framing an artwork?


The main purpose of a frame is to complement and not divert attention away from the artwork. A good framer should be able to provide the appropriate advice on frame mouldings, layered composition, borders, and linen liners.


What about the cost of framing?


Framing could turn out to be an expensive affair depending on the size of the artwork and the type of frame. You’ll need to decide whether the cost of framing is proportionate to the value of the artwork.


What are the factors to bear in mind when choosing a frame?


There are no hard and fast rules. Here are some general guidelines:


  • The style of the frame should match the style of the artwork. Classical paintings should be in a traditional frame and contemporary paintings in a modern frame.


  • A small painting could be given a larger feel by adding a 20-30 cm (7-12 inch) border. Otherwise, a 5-10 cm (2-4 inch) border should be sufficient. The border should always be larger than the width of the frame moulding and be neutral in colour, for example, ivory or beige.


  • Adding glass gives extra protection, but may blur the textures appearing in the painting. Different types of glass have different levels of visibility. Regular glass is the cheapest option and tends to be brittle. Plexi-glass (i.e., clear acrylic) is stronger but has lower UV resistance and visibility. Non-glare glass is a popular choice for overall UV resistance and strength. Museum glass – a strong and almost invisible material is the ideal choice; however, it's costly.


What would be a simple cost-effective frame?


A floater frame is a good option for paintings on stretched canvas. This type of frame has no glass. A floater frame gives the appearance that the artwork is floating with a small gap between the stretcher bars and the frame; it lifts the display without compromising visibility. 

As for artworks on paper or un-stretched canvas, you can easily find ready-made frames in the market. The price of the frame varies depending on the type of material and finishes; in any event, they cost much less than going to a professional framer. Most frames come with mat boards with standard size openings, for example, A4, A3, or A2. Sometimes, you may need to have a customised mat board to fit the artwork. You can customise any mat boards at a framer for a small fee. Depending on the value of the artwork, you may choose to either frame the artwork yourself or engage a professional.


You can get some tips on straightening rolled-up paintings and framing by watching the below videos.