To understand and apply the principle of the frame as it applies to two-dimensional art.



When you look through a window, the scene you see is bordered by a frame (in this case, a window frame). When you shift your vantage point, the scene within the frame changes.

Now imagine framing that same scene with the viewfinder of a camera. Like the view through the window, the scene can be "composed" by adjusting the position of your body. Further, by moving the camera, you can choose the orientation of the format to be either horizontal, diagonal, or vertical. You can make objects appear larger or smaller by either moving your body closer or further away from the scene--or zooming the lens of the camera in or out.

When you create a drawing, the four edges of the paper provide a border that in effect "frames" your work. Whether you are using a representational or non-objective style, the act of framing provides you with a method of determining your vantage point, your relationship to the subject, and your initial compositional idea.

Sometimes what we choose to leave out of the frame can be as important as what we choose to include. When we use frames to focus attention on the world around us in particular ways, we are using selective framing.

By careful placement, frames can lend legibility, structure, and order to otherwise chaotic visual and conceptual information.



Eugene Atget; Edgar Degas; Robert Irwin; Dorothea Lange; Rene Magritte; John Szarkowski (curator of Photography, MOMA, NY, 1962-1991); Allan McCollum; Leonardo Da Vinci;



McCollum, Allan. interview, Arts Magazine (1985)

Szarkowski, John,

--Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960 (1978).

--American Landscapes (1981).

--The Works of Atget, 4 vols. (1981 - 85).



top of page