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Rule No. 9

Don’t Overlook the Frame

Chris Milhausen of West Town’s CMM Framing, which caters to some of the city’s most prominent galleries, collectors, and artists, offers a primer on his craft by explaining how he handled four very different works.

Samantha Bittman’s Untitled, 2016 Photo: Courtesy of CMM Framing

Borders should breathe

“This is what’s typically called a floater frame, and I thought it would suit Samantha’s piece because her work feels like more of an object than a typical canvas. With most canvases, the frame helps cover the raw edges and staples, but with Samantha’s piece [a textural painting on handwoven textile] we wanted to show as much of the edge as possible.”

Contrast adds drama

“The owner chose the color for the frame, and I like how black creates a high contrast with Samantha’s palette. It gives the whole piece a little more strength.”

The grain counts

“I went with walnut wood because it has a very fine grain that comes across subtly with an ebony finish like this one. Ash, by contrast, works for pieces like vintage maps because it adds an aging feel, while maple wood and metal work for flat, graphic pieces.”


Photo: Martha Williams

Mattes add depth

“Adding all these mattes gives this Murakami piece character and depth. The layering also helps bring the focus toward the center of the frame.”


Photo: Courtesy of CMM Framing

Going ornate creates period appeal

“Framing this portrait of two dogs in a big, gold frame makes it feel like it’s from the Renaissance.”


Photo: Martha Williams

Color generates movement

“I layered four colored mattes around this movie poster to try and mimic the feeling at the end of the movie when you’re flying through space.”

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