The frame of a painting has been a place for artists to display their wit and talent since the beginning of art.
In the Renaissance, this was especially apparent in the works of Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. They frequently framed their paintings or included separate pieces of art within the painting itself.
The frame can also be used by an artist to show an image in perspective, giving it a three-dimensional appearance. It is common to see a tall building in the background of a painting that is much smaller than the figures in the foreground. The foreground is then painted on a slanted surface to give perspective to the image. This technique is often seen in European art.
We are all familiar with the idea of framing a shot in a photograph. But it is not just an issue for photographers. We all frame things, every day.
Framing is a matter of creating boundaries, literally or figuratively, that shape our view of reality. This can be done as deliberately as artfully arranging furniture to make a room look bigger or as accidentally as failing to notice that the bookcase in front of the sofa makes it impossible to get a good angle on the TV. The same kind of framing happens when we deal with large issues like politics and social policy, but most often at the individual level: how we present ourselves, what we choose to reveal about ourselves and what we try to keep hidden. Framing is one of those everyday things that can be dealt with on many levels at once: you can apply it consciously, making an active effort to do it well, or you can let it happen by accident.
Most often framing happens without us even noticing. If you have ever had the experience of looking for something you couldn’t find — for example a key — only to realize later that it was right in front of you all along, you know how easy it is not to notice something that’s right there in plain sight. That’s because
Art is a way of framing and arranging the world, so that we can see what it would otherwise look like if we didn’t have the art.
What a photograph captures is light, not space. Space is something we see with our eyes, and it has no limits. The space that an image captures is the space within the frame.
The framing of a photograph can change how you see what’s in it. It can tell you when to look and what to do with your eyes while you are looking.
Framing and arrangement in art, like the arrangement of a table or a room or a group of people, makes us notice some things and ignore others. When this produces an interesting result, it’s because we are noticing something we wouldn’t otherwise have noticed. Sometimes it’s because we wouldn’t have noticed something that was really there, but sometimes it’s just because we aren’t distracted by other things that aren’t there but might be expected to be there.
What is new in a work of art is not what it shows us but how it shows it.*
The ‘frame effect’ refers to the tendency for a larger canvas to improve the overall aesthetic impact of a work of art. When an artist uses a smaller canvas, they are limited in the number of options they can choose from. Because of this, the image can appear cluttered and visually unappealing. When an artist uses a larger canvas, they have more space to create the image and can reduce unnecessary detail by zooming in on only what is most important.
the ‘frame effect’ is not just a matter of size, however. It’s also dependent upon how well the smaller details within a work are framed by the rest of the work. For example, if you’re going to have a large painting, it might be better to crop portions out of it than to add unnecessary details that detract from the overall composition.
If you’re going to create anything visual, whether it’s a painting or just an advertisement on a billboard, you want your images to stand out and grab people’s attention. Using these techniques will help you achieve that goal.”
A good frame can be as interesting as the art itself. I have been thinking of this because of a pair of exhibitions. One is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the other at the National Gallery in Washington, on either side of a museum store called the Metropolitanshop.
The Metropolitanshop is an emporium of cool things: posters, clothing and jewelry inspired by artists in the Met’s collection; flat-screen televisions showing films about artists or exhibitions; smart phones that let you take selfies with work by Degas or Warhol; books and journals about art, design and fashion (some co-published with other cool places); skateboards and 3-D puzzles and board games; audio guides to the permanent collection; toys that take you behind the scenes at the museum; highbrow souvenirs commemorating current shows.
The Met has always been an architectural landmark. It is one of those buildings that New Yorkers use to tell themselves who they are: solid and wealthy enough to support such a place. The building’s architects, McKim, Mead & White, put their names on it for all to see. But to me, its most interesting feature was what was behind it: two acres of sculpture gardens half
I am a painter, and I often have people ask me what the difference is between art and illustration. Art, they say, shows important things. Illustration just shows things that are there.
We can see this attitude in many of the old masters whose work hangs in every museum in the world: they show us every detail of their subjects—the folds in a dress, the leaves on a tree, every brick in a building. They treat us as intelligent beings who can add two and two together.
The modern masters are different. They don’t show us everything; they only show us what is essential. They leave out everything extraneous to their vision—which for each artist is different, but always something different from everything left out by any other artist.
They leave out so much that we find ourselves wondering whether there is anything left at all. But there is always something left—always something that has never before been seen, even though it is exactly what we were expecting to see all along.
In the late 13th century, in the Italian city of Pisa, a famous scientist fell from a tower. Shortly before he died he wrote:
“I know that I am going nowhere. That which is real is not apparent to the senses, and that which is apparent to the senses is not real.”
This statement may seem like a simple recognition of the limits of scientific inquiry, but it was in fact a more radical declaration of independence than anything said by Galileo or Newton. To make this statement was to declare that there exists a reality beyond appearances, and that the task of science is not to describe appearances but to uncover reality.
It’s easy to miss this radicalism because we’ve become used to it. “Reality” and “truth” are now part of our basic vocabulary, as are “sensory perception” and “empirical data.” But when Dali wrote his autobiography he described it as his attempt at “a novel written with emulsion instead of ink.” He meant that he intended the book to be an investigation into truth rather than an account of events: something concrete yet intangible; something beyond appearance; something real.
The difference between science and art lies in their respective attitudes towards truth. Art seeks truth through exploration while science