Thumb tacks, tape or a wad of gum seem fine for the hanging of colorful posters on the bedroom wall when we are teenagers. Then comes the time when we want to present the impression of being more mature, and so we buy poster frames, wood frames or steel frames at Walmart.
Frames that enhance the appearance or even value of art has a long history. By the mid-14th century frames for artwork became all the rage, at least for churches, royalty, and the owners of vast estates. Frame makers were craftsmen that often-developed a following on par with the most famous artists of the day.
With the advent of photography in the 19th century, there was a shift in the market for frames. Initially this too was a venue reserved for the rich and famous.
As an interesting point of historic trivia, two men that made dramatic contributions to main streaming photography by lower the cost of equipment and making it more user friendly were also the brothers that have become synonymous with the steam car. Francis Edgar and Freelan Oscar Stanley were twin brothers with a diverse array of interests.
They produced violins. And F.E. became a prolific photographer that became regionally famous with a portrait studio. In 1876 he patented the first photographic airbrush, and a method to colorize black and white photographs. In 1884 the brothers partnered on a new project and then patented a machine for mass-producing quantities of coated dry plates.
To fund their experimentation with the development of steam powered automobiles, the Stanley brothers sold their photographic plate patents and business to a gentleman named George Eastman. And he used this as the basis to establish a company named Kodak.
The cost of photography and for framing declined dramatically. And the family photograph became a treasured heirloom that was worthy a frame, but not one that was too costly.
As some photographers blurred the line between photography and art, artisans that created custom frames were again in vogue. One of the most famous of these photographic artists was Ansel Easton Adams.
His black and white landscape images of the American west and southwest are considered fine art. His techniques, style and photographs are considered an integral component in photographic studies. He was a cofounder of Group f/64, an association of photographers that advocated what they termed as “pure” photography with sharp focus and the use of the full tonal range of a photograph.
Ansel in partnership with Fred Archer developed the detailed Zone System. This is a method of achieving a desired final print through the technical study of how tonal range is recorded and developed during each stage of the process including exposure, negative development, and printing.
Adams and other photographers were soon viewed much like DaVinci in a previous century. And as a result, custom frames worthy of the photographs were sought by galleries and owners.
Fast forward to the 21st century. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2019 there were more than 9,000 frame shops in the United States. One of these is Avant Print & Frame in Kingman, Arizona, your one stop shop for large format fine art printing, custom archival framing, Giclee fine art printing and museum quality framing.
- Written by Jim Hinckley