Sunday, March 30, 2008

How Not to Frame and Hang a Show

In an era when images and prints can be manipulated to tolerances not easily possible, or even imagined, just a few short years ago, I'm dumbfounded by the "primitive" manner in which some of those very same prints are then exhibited. I just saw the Basilico exhibit at SFMOMA, and although his prints don't particularly fall into the digital manipulation context, they do, unfortunately, fall victim to a particular syndrome which I've personally witnessed far too often without complaint from artist, critic or public alike.

It's been quite the thing to exhibit large unmatted photographs in recessed frames. Personally, I'd have no problem with this particular preference if it wasn't for the fact that the ceiling lights shining down at a 45 degree angle cast a horizontal band of shadow from those very frames directly across the top portion of each and every print (see recreation above)- bad enough when you got empty sky, really annoying when it's blocking out detail.

Here you have highly astute (and famous) artists, intrinsically attentive to every detail of how their work is visualized, created and promoted, who then sabotage the very last and crucial step in that long chain towards presentation of their finished product. And it's particularly vexing when the remedies are so readily available! Either mat and overmat the damn prints so the shadow isn't cast on the print itself, or place them in frames that aren't recessed (and don't cause the shadow in the first place)!

Some things I'll never understand...

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