25 October 2009

Beyond reframing: Deframing

In a story from today's New York Times about changes in The Museum of Modern Art's modernist art collections, I just read a great thing. MoMA decided to change the display of some of these paintings by removing their frames. I love this quote: “'Now these strokes explode off the canvas,' she said happily.”

Isn't that great? It's so simple – remove the frame and you've got a whole different painting on your wall. And you get an artwork that is in the state in which the artist first experienced it. I don't imagine most painters think as they're working on their latest artwork, “I'd better make something that matches that really rococo gold frame in the corner.”

And it's such a simple exercise, elegant like that last thought Byron Katie has you do: Can you picture this differently? Can you see this picture differently? In this case the answer seems to be an emphatic yes. (The whole question about pictures and frames makes me wonder about the history of picture frames. How did we come to accept flowery, flourish-filled ornatities around our paintings in the first place?)

I love the exercise, the mental leap you can take away from this. How could you remove a frame from a problem you can't see your way out of? How could you recontextualize your problem and change your view of it?

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