What’s the Deal with All the Gold Picture Frames?


What's the Deal with all the Gold Picture Frames?

What’s the Deal with all the Gold Picture Frames?

Am I the only one that is sick and bored to tears with beautiful paintings framed with gold picture frames? What the hell? Yeah framing can be expensive, and when an artist is turning out paintings on a regular basis the cost adds up. I am right there with you. I get it.  I know I live all the way up here in the Northwest and not in the big city…But what’s the deal? A lot of galleries I have been to lately have way to many gawdy gold picture frames. Instead of promoting the painting, they are just a big ugly distraction in most cases. It doesn’t seem to matter what the painting is either; warm, cool, big, small, landscape, still life, modern, traditional, professional, student, abstract. Did the Old Masters send out a memo, or did I miss the gold frame garage sale of the century? What’s the deal?



Am I supposed to be Impressed by Gold Picture Frames?


antique frameMaybe there was a time when gold frames were all the rage. There was a time when we all used a typewriter and rotary phones too. I am sure there are some awesome paintings with gold picture frames on them and they look fantastic.  I saw an impressionist painting exhibit a while back. There may have been some gold picture frames on those masterpieces, but if there were, they didn’t stick out like a rap singer with 50 lbs. of gold chains hangin’ at a cub scout meeting.

I interrupt this rant to tell you about a collector I just met that owns a large amount of paintings with almost all of them in gold frames! (his words, not my eyes). This particular collector is from Helena, Montana and Helena used to be a very wealthy mining town. Apparently most of the paintings in the museum there have gold frames. He is very proud of this and the gold frames make him think about Helena and his heritage. This man likes landscape paintings and gold  picture frames, and didn’t mind telling me so. What can I say to that?

antique frame54Continuing on…If most paintings are unique and one of a kind, shouldn’t the frames maybe have a hint of uniqueness? One could say that the buyer is buying the art for the work itself, not for the frame. Alright. Whether right or wrong, isn’t the painting and the frame a package deal? Shouldn’t they work together for the best possible presentation?

Well it happened again. In the process of writing this, I had the opportunity of attending a preview of an auction that I will be participating in. There they were, in all their glory. The gold frame collection.  The gallery had most of these paintings hung together, so they were easy to spot. Come to find out I wasn’t the only one that feels this way about gold picture frames. The thing is, there were a lot of really nice paintings with  gold frames, but it was the frames that I noticed first, not the painting itself. Maybe it’s just me and my attitude, but I don’t think so. There were also a lot of nice paintings with frames that actually worked well with the painting they belonged to. Beautiful, contemporary frames that accentuated the art, not distracted from it.  

No Picture Frames are not Better than Gold Picture Frames

Might as well go all in. These paintings that have no frame at all…Again I know framing can be expensive. When I see the painting with no frame, my first thought is always this: the artist is too broke to buy a frame. Finishing the painting around the sides of the canvas? Why? Oh, so it doesn’t look like the artist wouldn’t or couldn’t put a frame on the piece? Who’s fooling who? I know this unframed look can work, but not for everybody.

There are always exceptions to every rule. Artist’s are supposed to break rules right? So sometimes gold picture frames might be the bomb. There may be times that the best frame on that painting is no frame at all. But there is no time when a gold frame is the right picture frame for every painting.


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