The Gilded Edge: The Art of the Frame

Eli Wilner, Compiled by, Eli Wilner, Author
Eli Wilner, Compiled by, Eli Wilner, Author Chronicle Books $60 (204p) ISBN 978-0-8118-2070-7
Hardcover - 203 pages - 978-1-4521-0286-3
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It's a frame-up! New York frame dealer and restorer Wilner has compiled an elegant and substantial book of words and images about the history and aesthetics of the rectangular things that go around paintings, with a tight focus on American art. Though often neglected by professional critics, frames have played many roles in shaping the look and feel of paintings, restricting or opening up the visual and cultural fields in which paintings appear. Painters like James McNeill Whistler put care and attention to making their frames themselves; designers and craftspeople from other media, like the architect Stanford White, also created significant picture frames. After a quick introduction by Wilner himself, 10 essays--by curators, academic art historians and practicing framers--introduce readers to picture frames' past and their present; 175 plates (many in color) show, sometimes just frames, sometimes paintings in frames, and make the book a pleasure to leaf through. Framer Suzanne Smeaton discusses the frames designed by painters, furnishing many beautiful full-page examples: Florine Stettheimer's white-and-gold, carved-and-gilded setting for her Beauty Contest simulates curtains at a fancy theater, while Georgia O'Keeffe's scalloped metal frame for her Ram's Head sheathes the painting's loud browns in a quieter black. Princeton art historian Sally Mills's essay ""From Parlors to Pueblos"" shows, with examples from Remington, Church and others, how ""the diversity of western frames parallels the diversity found in western paintings."" Metropolitan Museum of Art associate curator Carrie Rebora Barratt shows how the Met has kept track of its frames, corrected framing mistakes and gleaned information about painters' own choices, with particular attention to 19th-century realist painter Thomas Eakins. Appendixes include a glossary of frame types, terms and ornamentation. American frames became collectible in their own right, and a subject of special art historical attention, only about 20 years ago: this hefty and attractive volume shows how far the study of frames has already come. (Oct.)
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