By Emily Horn, DOMA Intern

Walk into an art museum, any art museum, and what do you see? “Frames” probably isn’t what comes to mind. How many people focus on the frames around artwork for even a second before moving on to the next artwork in a gallery? We put so much emphasis on the art itself that what surrounds it is often left unnoticed. I am just as guilty of this as the next person, but as an intern here at DOMA, I have gained a new appreciation for the thought and artistry put into frames.

Frame from Jimmie in Blue Jumper, 1920 by Robert Henri

Frames are the Cinderellas of the art world; they do a tremendous amount of work but are often overlooked. Frames protect the artworks they support; they show off the qualities of a picture, drawing attention to its formal structure, its patterns and colors, all while enabling them to resonate fully with a viewer.  Due to their beauty, frames can easily outshine their partnered artwork. Deciding on the perfect frame comes with specific criteria. One must determine whether the frame accents as well as protects the artwork.

Frame from Autumn, 1744 -1745 by Francois Boucher

The frame may have started out as a form of protection with less intricate designs. However, it wasn’t before long when the art of framing became important. Frames are partly furniture and partly sculpture. They are works of art, carved by the best sculptors of their day, and yet their job is to serve the paintings they encase.

The most common type of frames which appear golden in color are generally gilded with gold leaf but could also be painted. Gilding is a very delicate process where sheets of beaten gold are applied to the surface of a frame.

After noticing the beauty of the frames at DOMA I began to wonder why some of the works are frameless. Works of art may not have frames surrounding them because the artist did not want to frame their work of art. For example, many contemporary works of art do not have frames at all.

On your next visit to DOMA take a little extra time before moving onto the next the piece of artwork and admire the beauty of the frames. You will never truly know what you’re missing until you think outside the box.