Friday, November 7, 2008

Within the Framework of Boundlessness

I'm seeing a lot of art nowadays in museums and for sale that is frameless. Well, it's not exactly frameless, it's GALLERY WRAPPED.

A gallery wrap is usually chosen by young people and it is often use for modernist paintings rather than classic style painting. Even when a 'classical' theme or style is utilized, a gallery wrap will give a contemporary feel. There are 2 major benefits for using a gallery wrap, the first is the price which is much cheaper than a classical frame. The second is the weight which is much lighter in compare to any other frame style. The downside of a gallery wrap is that it can be used only for oil paintings and for acrylic paintings. These are the two major mediums that are painted on canvases that remain stretched on wooden bars (the underframe). Watercolor washes, Charcoal & Pencil drawings, and Pastel paintings are usually done on different kinds of papers which don't lend themselves to this kind of wrap. Additionally, these papers need glass, which is difficult to impossible to pull off when there's no outer frame.

All this being said, I am not a believer that all design decisions are economically based. While it's true that it has become very common to print photographs on canvas and then gallery wrap them because it makes the print editing process easier and cheaper, and many undiscerning beginners paint this way because they fail to ask themselves why they're doing it, there is nevertheless an ideology at work here and I'm going to take a stab at describing it.

Modernist artists don't like boundaries. They don't like being told that their art should be confined within a certain framework, because they see the metaphorical distinction of a cosmological view which determines reality within a 'framework ' of known or at least understandable principles.

Simply put, modernist artists don't want to give the impression that they are saying "look at this particular scene", which is what happens when a piece of art is conventionally framed. What they want to say is 'The subject or mode of representation of art should have no boundaries, so my piece of art should not have boundaries. The sides and back of the painting are just as important as the front, even if you can't see them'.

So the next time you see a gallery wrap, know that it's tipping its hat to modernist cosmology.

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