Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Framed And Then Hung

For MT
Whether it's gold and ornate, silver and sleek or wooden and homely, a frame can give an artwork a sophisticated edge.

But that's not the only reason to go to the trouble of framing a picture.

Art collector Pierre Brochet advised framing artworks for preservation purposes. "It's important to frame pictures if you are going to put them in storage so that the corners don't fray," he said.

Brochet said he had no trouble choosing the right frame for works in his collection.

"I always pick simple frames because contemporary art should speak for itself," he said.

He warned to be careful with photographs. "A cheap frame can allow humidity to build up, which damages the chemicals of the photo."

There are many places to get pictures framed, but NB Gallery director Natalya Bykova warned that quality varies. "If you go somewhere cheap sometimes the four different sides of the frame don't fit, or the edges of the corner do not line up. Even the most beautiful artwork can be ruined with crooked corners," said Bykova, who tries to sell artworks with the frames included as much as possible.

"We only trust Svetozarov with our pictures and send all our customers there," she said.

Grigory Tambulov / For MT
Rosizo, the official framing agency for state museums and galleries, also does work for big exhibitions and private clients.

Svetozarov has a selection of more than 5,000 frames, ranging in materials from wood to gold, in a variety of styles and colors. Manager Yekaterina Svetozarova said their selection was mostly imported from Italy.

"The staff know what they are doing but they are not robots," Svetozarova said. "Sometimes they do make mistakes, but it's very rare -- they are mostly misunderstandings with the clients about whether they want glass."

Connie Nelson, a "trailing spouse" from the United States, said she favored Rosizo, the official framing agency for state museums and galleries, which also does work for big exhibitions, art collectors and private clients.

One of the attractions of Rosizo is the English-speaking staff. "They're very helpful," she said.

Nelson was at Rosizo to frame a watercolor print. She had brought in a photo of a similar watercolor purchased three years earlier and was trying to match the frame.

"Choosing the frame is the hardest part," said Nelson, who has also framed tapestries at Rosizo. "Other places left me to my own devices."

"I don't like to insult others in my industry, but I do think we do a better job," said Sergei Kudryashev of Rosizo.

"You have to know what others are doing to stay ahead," he sighed. "We get a lot of customers coming to us, asking us to redo bad work."

Rosizo has a huge selection of frames, mostly wooden and imported from Spain and Italy. A popular style is a wooden frame, painted in gold, made to look like the gold is flaking off.

Grigory Tambulov / For MT
Some of the frame varieties at Rosizo.

"This is an antique look that people are fond of here," Kudryashev said.

Another issue to consider is how to hang an artwork on a wall.

Alexei Kozlov, the manager of Lion's Art Service, said he has hung works in the Kremlin, although his is not the government's official frame service.

"If everyone drilled a hole in the wall every time they hung something up in the Kremlin, the walls would crumble," Kozlov said.

He said Lion offers a device from Germany to combat such problems. By hanging a special skirting board from your ceiling, with rails attached to it, you can hook up any picture to the adjustable rails and change the picture or its position on the wall as often as you like. The price for the skirting starts at $20 a meter, a small price to pay for those who are indecisive or change their art frequently.

Kozlov said there were hundreds of frame studios in Moscow, but fewer than 10 good ones. "Many use cheap materials, and the staff themselves have not been trained properly," he said.

Bykova has some basic hints for her customers when they choose a frame. "Try asking the frame store for a sample of the side rather than just a corner." You should hold this side up to every side of the image to make sure it matches the color and look of the picture.

She also advised to look out for frames that are too deep, because the edges of the frame may overshadow and disguise the artwork.

Expats should avoid the temptation of matching frames to decor, she said.

"Russian-styled apartments are different to those in the West and you don't want to reframe your work when you get home," she said.

Kudryashev said he had no advice, leaving everything up to his staff and customers. "Whether a painting needs a frame is up to its owner," he said.

A picture without a frame was not an option for Nelson.

"Maybe if it's Matisse or Picasso it doesn't need a frame. ... But this," she said tilting her head toward her watercolor print, "definitely needs one."

4/2 Maly Vlasyevsky Per., 241-2911, M. Kropotkinskaya/Smolenskaya.

Framing a 50cm-by-1m image starts from 800 rubles.

Lion Art Service
3 Polkovaya Ul., M. Savyolovskaya.
Framing a 50cm-by-1m image starts from 1,000 rubles.

11 Krasnoarmeiskaya Ul., 109-2086, M. Aeroport. Prices vary.